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Full text of "The Duke of Florence. A tragedy in five acts"

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DUKE OF FLORENCE. 



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A TRAGEDY, 



IN FIVE ACTS. 



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LONDON: 

PRINTED BY WILLIAM NICOL, SHAKSPEARE PRESS, 
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MDCCCXLIII. 




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Scene, Florence. — Time, twentv hours. 



CHARACTERS. 



4? 



Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence. 

Lorenzo de' Medici, Cousin to the Duke.— 

Lionardo Allori, a noble Florentine, betrothed to 
Laura. 

Alberto Strozzi, Brother to Laura. {To be played 
by a woman.) 

Michael, a Greek Refugee. 

Scoroncolo, Swordsman to Lorenzo de' Medici. 



Bianca, Duchess, Wife to Alessandro. 
Laura Strozzi, betrothed to Lionardo. 



Officers, Courtiers, Chamberlain, Pages, Captain of the 
Guard. 






THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 



ACT I. 

SCENE I. — A corridor in the Ducal Palace 
Time — Morning — Noon. 

Michael the Greek, solus. 

3 Tis well that we, inheritors of toil, 
Are yet ennobled by necessity, 
With fairer titles, and a sterner pride 
Than time or wealth ere blazoned — For with us, 
Is witfs high privilege, — and the golden art 
To scan men's tempers, — Ours, the bitter mock, 
That doth refresh the spirit, which hath stooped, 
At Fortune's bidding, to anothers will, — 
And then approves its nobler self by scorn — 
The morning wanes — and I, no prodigal 
Of scant existence, I, who barter time 
With victuallers for my bread, am set to wait 
Upon a sluggard's rising — (taking out a scroll. J Here is 
note 



2 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Of what should rouse thee, Alessandro ! How ! 

If this my haste grew sullen, and turned back ? 

How ! if I stored its warrant in my vest, 

Till noon tomorrow ? Aye ! but this ! — no more ! — 

And thou dost sleep with treason, i' the couch 

She spreads for Princes, — with such lullaby, 

As these who've sworn to hush thee, would consent 

To make their quire— Yet shalt thou live ! My need 

Would use thee further, for thou'rt rated still 

" Magnificent 5 ' — besides, I love thee, Duke ! 

I love thee in the hate I bear to those 

Who love thee not, — the dull and haughty few, 

Who lack what's counted in the Medici, 

Of Art's choice grace, and liberal favour — Sirs ! 

I thank ye, that ye spurned me ! — 'Tis the Greek, 

The lettered beggar that doth baulk ye — Who 

Moves hither ? — Then lie close ! (hiding the scroll] the 

Prince Lorenzo ! 
Where favour grows, chief favourite — His jest, — (point- 
ing to the Duke's Chamber) 
And all men's riddle — 



SCENE II. 

Enter Lorenzo quickly. 

Lorenzo. 

What! Philosophy 
Turned courtier! here i'the Porch ! Hail learned Greek \ 
Grave mender of old saws, — time's rhetoric, 



/ 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 3 

That age had rusted — Well ! thouVt early, and 
Dost step before me to the presence — Say ! 
How fares the pupil of our rival schools ? 
Shall dead philosophers, or dames that live, 
Plague the Duke's leisure, till he sleep again ? 

Michael. 
Sleep that encroacheth on the light so far, 
Quarrels with study — E'en Lorenzo's jest 
Were food too heavy for the sickly wit 
That dozes in the eye of noon — 

LoREXZO. 

Unrip 
Thy budget — Nay ! it is the courtier's trick, 
To match his speech with fair occasion, and 
The Duke on my report shall listen — Why 
Dost gather thus thy mantle ? Art thou cold ? 
Heap on more fuel, Sirs ! (to attendants) A packet ! One 
Written with Plato's symbol ? (watching him closely) 

Trim your beard 
More in the fashion ! — He that sojourneth 
Where strangers dwell, should be content to wear 
Their uses, — and remember ! thou art bound 
To Florence, for more love than such observance ; 
For love that should be forward to befriend 
The hearths that warmed thee, (after a pause, watching 

him) Therefore trim your beard 
More in the fashion of our citizens ! — 
My speech is out. 

Michael. 
In noting it, my thought 



4 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Finds yet — 

Lorenzo. 

Thou'rt dull with watching — Shame on him 
Who keeps thee ! What ! since nine o' the dial ? Nay ! 
By Cosmo's beard, I love thee for the craft 
That hides what it has found. Thou teachest me, 
What I most lack in my brain's furniture — 
I'll be thy scholar, Greek, and learn the code 
Thy nation uses, of world-tricking laws, 
Sole heritage of all that once was best — 

Michael. 
And therefore kept to win the rest again — 
The savage dunce that rules us, is your dupe — 
And chapmen call him honest — If his slave 
Be not outwitted, is he therefore cheat ? 
Your traders, Prince, are cunning as our own — 
In slander we're behind — 

Lorenzo. 
Rogues all ' Get back 
Your cudgels from the Turk — men then will listen, 
When in your turn ye rail at those who flout ye — 

Michael. 
He sneers at destiny, who sneers at Greece ! 
It tramples us, but scatters not the dust 
In which we crumble ; — from the hoard, secure, 
Where fell the ruin, there to build it up — 
Earth's chosen sons, when Earth and time were young, 
Eldest of those who helped to store renown, 
Though beggared now, Fame's title-deeds are ours, 
And Fate that holds them, will approve them good — 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 5 

Lorenzo. 
Be thou Fate's crier then, when its decree 
Is registered for telling ! — Spare thy lungs, 
Till thou hast vented in my cousin's ear 5 
What breath was gathered for thy story's use. 
Is't for Alberto thou hast come to plead ? 
The Faction's stripling poet, whose loose rhymes 
Our critic laws have construed treason — Fie 
On the dull knaves who judged them ! 

Michael. 

It but reached me 
That he was summoned, where the Council sits, 
For notice of his fine — It were unwise, 
Methinks, to visit with the law's extreme 
And written penalty the boy's offence — 
The Duchess, whom he sings, stays in the hearts 
Of your rich burghers, though she dwell beyond 
Their city gates — Bianca's praise, be sure, 
Hath won him favour, more than is undone 
By Medici's rebuke — Will not the Duke 
Be gracious here ? 

Lorenzo. 
Look out upon the sky ! 
Is the morn cloudy ? — Then the Duke is stern — 
Disposed to pardon, if the air be soft — 
The idle great infer from Heaven's face 
Their morals for the day, — and smile or frown, 
As the winds let them — When the sun hath shone, 
I've known my cousin, as the weather, kind — 
In spring time he is merciful — You smile 



6 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

That he, and those whom Fate has visited 

With her worst mischief, Luxury, should draw 

Their humours from the clouds — Say ! hast thou found 

A rule less fickle than the elements 

By which to set the fashion of thy will ? 

I tell thee Greeks that I have known but one, 

And that is Lionardo, who when launched 

On the world's tide, took counsel from his heart 

What course to stand on — 

Michael. 

Yet, methinks, too far 
Aloof from the world's track, he shapes his own- — 
The main and busy current of life's flood, 
Where men most venture, who would glide to fortune, 
He, that should pilot to such enterprise, 
Leaves for cross channels, where he steers alone. 

Lorenzo. 
And would'st thou follow in ambition's wake, 
If mated with Allori ? 

Michael.. 
Believe me — No ! 
The angry star that ruled his banishment, 
Would thwart us here in Florence — On the Duke 
My fortunes hang — Fve set them there to grow. 

Lorenzo. 
Enough ! I am your herald with the Duke, 
And smooth the passage to his princely ear, 
For the rough tidings that your loyalty 
Is burdened with — {Exit Lorenzo to the Duke's 

chamber , speaking to Guard at the door. 



sc. in.] THE DUEE OF FLORENCE. 7 

SCENE III. 

Michael, solus. 
Some mischief lurks 
Beneath the covert of this tangled speech — 
Why was his eye so busy with my face ? {after a pause) 
Nay, if it be, I must be bold to follow — 
Court manners now were treason, — and rude haste 
Must be my chamberlain with Princes — 

[passes to the Duke's chamber 
Guard at the door. 

Back! 
There is no passage — 

Michael. 
Friend, your partizan 
Should bid denial to the stranger — I 
Have privilege of entry — 

Guard. 

Prince Lorenzo, 
E ? en now, left word, that should the Greek intrude 
Within our watch, our halberds should be crossed 
Upon his passage — -Back foreign — 
Michael. 

Slave ! 
Be silent ! Speech was framed for Gods and men, — 
Not for the wolf and spaniel, — things that rend 
Or fawn, as instinct of brute nature wills — 
Of all curst creatures that o'erflowing wealth 
Engenders, they, whom I do hold most curst, 
Are spawned within the portals of the great — 



8 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Minions, ne'er seen but in the sun they shame, 

There bred, to glitter — apes, that stretch man's smile, 

And lend a coarser wrinkle to his frown. 

The limner, poet, minstrel, — all who draw 

The breath of inspiration, breathe less free 

Before their patron's lacquey — will the muse 

Be ever tended by such ministers ? 

Oh ! I am loth to deem that after times 

Will find her still a beggar at the board 

Of high-born folly — Ye, who greatly think, — 

Nor need a patron's gold to buy your thoughts, 

Why will ye buckle on the heel of pride 

The spur that galls ye ? — be not querulous ! 

The plague in which ye rot, your homage breeds. 



SCENE IV. 

Enter ALESSANDRo/rom the Chamber with Lorenzo, 
reading a scroll. 

Duke. 
Capponi ? Which o'the name ? he, who doth choke 
Upon his drink ? 

Lorenzo. 

Aye ! laughing Giulio ! 

Duke. 

Score 
His count in buffets — by this hand, Lorenzo, 
We've ta'en our quittance — tush ! he had full cause — 
Bid him to supper. — 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, 9 

Lorenzo. 
Thou art idle, and 
Dost plant forgiveness out of season, where 
It grows, an unkind weed, a poisonous flower, 
Fair in the cap, but deadly, — trust me, Cousin, 
This man should die. 

Duke. 
A flagon ! let it be — 
Well chucked with jests — ere on his draught he breathe — 
How say'st thou, Lorenzino ? 

Lorenzo. 

Cousin ! 
Duke. 

Peace ! 
{Reading a scroll) Francesco Zeffi ! that's my Cham- 
berlain ! 
His face hath Cosmo's trick— let him be changed ! 
If thou dost need a scarecrow, here is stuff, 
As unclaimed carrion, fit for hanging — What 
Doth grace the fellow, that his service grows 
Of late, to custom in my presence ? Now ! 
Who's next ? {reading scroll) Why buzzard ! 'tis the 

muster roll 
Read, if thou'rt waking, of our company — 
The star-potation, and moon-roving blades, 
Preferred by Lorenzino to our trust, 
When grave men slumber — 

Lorenzo. 

I but hugged them close, 
To choke their loving purpose of its breath, 
They would have slain thee, Cousin ! 



10 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Duke. 

Yesternight 
I walked with Molza - Is this certain ? 
Michael {advancing) 

Sir! 
Duke. 
To-morrow Greek ! 

Michael. 
Will't please thee,, Sir, to read ? 

{presenting his scroll) 
Duke. 
To-morrow ! thou shalt rate it at what price 
Thy humour fits — No bargain on't ! 'tis mine — 

Michael. 
It is a tale of Florence, noble. Duke, 
Set down in Tuscan, and not Byzantine, 
Will't please thee, read ! 

Duke. 
Hence thou dull pedant, cross 
My step again, Fll spurn thee — 
Michael. 

Strike me down, 
So thou wilt listen, — I that crave thine ear, 
Am yet no suitor, {kneeling) 

Duke. 

Whom dost worship, Greek ! 
Is't Lorenzino ? Faugh ! in Tartarus 
His tribe is blackest. — Come, thy Paper ! Nay ! 
Would'st have me stoop ? Up ! Fellow ! {to Michael 
kneeling) 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 11 

Michael [throwing scroll on ground, and rising) 
Seek it there ! 
Low as thy foot doth tread, proud Medici ! 
I do renounce thee, thou hot blooded Duke ! 
Who helped thy sceptre to its use, and taught 
Thy state the grace it lacked — 

Duke. 

Reach it, Lorenzo ! 
Thy stature, Cousin, hath this vantage, that 
It sets thee ever foremost to the ground — 
Stoop Lorenzino ! What's the matter, Greek ? 
I love thee, and do listen— [to Lorenzo) Read, Coz, read. 

Michael. 
A leaf from treason's chapter, — therefore, Duke, 
I do commend it to thine eye alone — 

Duke. 
Are none but jays abroad ? Is there no lark, 
Or linnet up in heaven, that night's brood 
Are left i' the sun to croak ? Ill boding knaves ! 
There is no wisdom in your almanack — 
Fie on't ! the day is honest, and love's star 
Doth rule it in my calendar — Put up 
Thy mischief, Greek, till we have stomach for't — 
To-morrow — Wednesday it were better — Come, 
F the front of Phoebus — We are falconers^ 
And mount betimes — say, Michael, wilt thou ride ? 
A match I set with Cosmo, which doth train 
The swifter wing ; my English knave, or he 
Commended late from France — We'll souse him, that 
He'll wish his jesse were a halter — and 



12 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act u 

The hood his falcon wears a hangman's cap, 
To choke his shame and hide it — Come ! thou'lt see 
How I can rise upon my cousin's pitch, 
When i' the air we're matched — 
Lorenzo. 

Why dost thou hawk 
Thus ever at one quarry ? By the love 
I bear thee, Cousin, thou dost wrong me here — 
Our blood, i' the which I follow, being stirred 
Against itself, doth forfeit its respect — 
We are abated of our quality, 
The separate fear, whereon our title leans, 
By this advised presentment of the spleen, 
In which thou'rt vexed, to lewd opinion, and 
Men's eyes that follow her — 

Duke. 

Enough ! thou'lt bear 
This speech to Cosmo, — he is wise, and sets 
His will rj the breath of favour, ere 'tis flown — 
Therefore he'll clip it at thy bidding— I, 
Thou know'st, fly counter, — [taking Michael's paper from 

Lorenzo) Are ye leagued ? What's here ? 
Each plot doth counterfeit the other — Read, (to Lorenzo) 
The names, the hour, are stale variety 
Of what thy scroll reports — 

Michael. 

One other name, 
Chief of the rest, as once Rome's Catiline, 
Here most implied, though of blank character, 
Hath scaped all question — Do we tally, Duke, 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 13 

F the count of what is missed ? See if the name 
I need, be written on Lorenzo's scroll ! 

Lorenzo. 
I' the Council, Greek ! thou'lt read it there — We hold 
Thee summoned on this notice. 
Duke. 

Aye, at noon — 
A match between ye ! — Keep your mischief close ! . 
Oh ! when 'tis vented, how my men of trust 
Who sit with Cosmo at the board, will leap 
Fear stricken from their stools ! 

What hour hath chimed ? 
Lorenzo. 
Noon, — if it please thee, Cousin, — and we're tasked, 
Wilt chide me, on this hour, i' the Court, that meets 
For judgment of Alberto ! 

Duke. 
I am weary — Go 
Thou, with this message, tell them, I have sworn, 
Thou'lt mark me, Lorenzino, by the light 
In Laura's eye, her maiden lip and brow, 
Three several vows, — each would suffice, — that he, 
Whom they would judge, her brother, and twin born, 
Shall, as herself, be quit of harm and free — 
See to it ! 

Lorenzo {taking him aside) 
Cousin ! hear me ! 

Michael {aside) 

He who doubts, 
Is to the world's religion heretic — 



14 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Thou art hard set, Lorenzo ! play thy best ! 

[Exit Michael,. 
Duke. 
Peace — Fll not hear thee — 

Lorenzo. 

Nay! 'twould win her— Prove 
But to her honour love's necessity, 
Her heart ne'er doubted of the argument. 
And so be absolute — -If the boy's name 
Be fairly written where the ink is wanting, 
Who shall hold question by what pen 'twas done ! 

Duke. 
Nay ! with a chin unreaped ! Their captain ! yet 
The name is likely — hatred of our stock 
Is heir-loom to their house — 

Lorenzo. 

Aye ! and the love 
That follows those who hate us — Young Alberto, 
As Florence counts, is old as Medici — 

Duke. 
Enough ! thou hast my warrant — Yet dost hear, 
Give gentle note to Laura of the charge 
Thus levelled at her brother — 

Lorenzo. 

His arrest 
Would m, \e our fear look paler, and thus lend 
To our belief the colour that it needs — 

Duke. 
Where stays he. ? 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. J 5 

Lorenzo. 

At his home. Treason that rhymes, 
Is a safe citizen — it never stirs 
Beyond the brain that breeds it, and is held, 
When noticed least, in safest custody — 
State Traitor now, he should with state be tended ! 

Duke. 
Peace ! thou dull jester ! what of Laura ? 

Lorenzo. 

Tears 
And sighs are still her only greeting — Trust me, 
Our wooing must be sterner — 
Duke. 

Let her go ! 
Proud wench ! -No hint, no breath of promise ? 
Lorenzo. 

None — 
Duke. 
Now by the Gods ! — didst say she wept ? Her brow 
Thus knit, was't not ? 

Lorenzo. 

No !- though she wept': — it shewed 
Smooth as the chrystal rock, from which beneath 
Continuous tears are dropping— had she frowned, 
We had been nearer — 

Duke. 

Thou dost lie — no breath 
Stirs in her nature's element, but such 
As Dian's cheek might kiss, fan Vesta's flame — 
Is she not chaste as Dian — fair as light, 



16 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act. i. 

That blushes into colour, when it woos 

The rose leaf — gentle as an infant's sleep, — 

Graceful as her, to us the Medici, 

At once the mistress and the monument — 

The ocean beauty, shrinking from the gaze 

Of young creation wakened into love — 

Thou wilt not win her — 

^Officer without) 

Room ! 

Lorenzo. 

Thy Duchess, Cousin, 
Weary and stained with travel. 

Duke (to attendant) 

Saucy groom ! 

Why does her Highness wait? Ill mannered hound ! 

Lead to her; slave ! 



SCENE V. 
Enter Bianca (meeting Dukej 

BlANCA. 

Thus welcome, yet so bold ! 
My Alessandro ! — Nay ! forgive me ! — Thought 
Here cheated time, and claimed old debts anew — 
Once, when we met, each liberal moment paid 
More than long hours had borrowed of content, 
F the days that held us parted — I but vex 
Thee here, who should be suitor 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 17 

Duke. 

Let thy suit 
By its own breath be quickened into use 
Of what it needs — speak worthily ! thy silence 
Too long hath been our sorrow — ■ 

BlANCA. 

From thy favour, 
I might ask much, for thou wert ever kind, 
Ere thou wouldst say Enough — This my request, 
Speaks modestly, and taxes not the giver — 
A foolish boy hath wronged me, Alessandro ! 
Wilt thou forgive him ? 

Duke. 

On thy counsel ? Nay ! 
We are most wronged in this, and should have leave, 
To plead with thee against forgiveness — 

BlANCA. 

Well ! 
Thou know'st my suit ; — Strozzi's young heir, Alberto, 
Hath set my name i'the front of factious rhymes, 
Against thy state and person — Thou dost know 
How I do love thee — Let the boy go free ! 
Trust me, a dreamer, and not dangerous — 
Thou wilt not harm him ! 

Duke (to Lorenzo aside.) 

Lend thy counsel ! 

BlANCA. 

Do 

I vex thee, Alessandro ? 



18 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act i. 

Duke {to Lorenzo) 

Cross this chance, 
And I will call thee Brother, who art now 
My jest, and Lorenzino ! 

Lorenzo {aside to Duke) 
Set thy will 
Yet faster — she hath prompted him — Nay. listen ! 
My tongue will lend more grace to your denial, 
If coupled in her suit — Hold stoutly ! (aloud) Those, 
Who walk the city, know how faction sows, 
Of late, unwholesome rumours, where men's love 
Till now, grew closest — seeds that quickened once, 
To ferment, soon would top rebellion's height — 
The boy is loved, inheriting old favour, 
So young ! twin born 'tis said, with her of all 
Our maids the fairest — Send him forth to travel, 
And let them hang, who made him traitor — 
Bianca. 

Ah! 
Didst speak, was't thus, of death ? — 
Duke. 

Nay listen here ! — 
To-night we hold the revel, which our Church 
Enjoins, thou know'st, for winter festival. 
Wilt thou not come, Bianca kfonce thy mirth 
Led mine, and ruled it,— -Wilt thou come ? 
Bianca. 

Your pardon ! 
'Tis with Lorenzo I would speak. 
Duke. 

Thou'lt come!- [Exit Duke. 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 19 

BlANCA. 

Thou know'st my right to question thee — What scroll 
Is that within thine hand \ 

Lorenzo. 

Plague on't ! — No list 
That sorts with Lorenzino's office — Faugh S 
Un scented !»wilt thou read it ?• Mine are plumes 
Moulted from Cupid's wing, — fit for love's use — 
A goose hath cackled at his side, who penned 
What here is written — names, fair Duchess, — yet 
Not such as vintners score, — no revellers 
For the night's bidding — trust me, none so wise — 
Fie on them ! bloody knaves U i' the very front 
And notice of our pageant, ('tis a masque, 
Of rare contrivance, choice in argument, 
How costly, thou wilt, seeing it, approve) — 
This to have marred by rude presentment of 
Rebellion's scene ! — there, amidst trooping dames, 
Maids, and girl pages to have slain him ! 

BlANCA. 

Whom ? 
Whom to have slain ? Thou mock ? st me ! - Whom ? 
Lorenzo. 

Nay read ! 
These, upon Michael's warrant, are set down, 
Chief actors, — I had counted closer ! 

Bianca {having perused the scroll) 

Four! 
The names are likely — of thy company, 
Condottieri, — men of blood, — the scum 



20 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i, 

Of parcelled Italy, — of all that boils 

For poison in her vein — Thou dost beleaguer him 

With such as these — 

Lorenzo. 
Lady! 

BlANCA. 

Oh shame ! that he, 
As goodly plants, should serve for worms to climb on, 
And spread their noisome juices to the sun ! 
There is one other U what is he ? 
Lorenzo. 

Thy tongue 
Did name him, even now, — i' the prayer for grace 
It left with Alessandro, which to hear, 
Was to become its echo, — save my cousin, 
There is not he in Tuscany, — 

BlANCA. 

The name, 
Is 't thus, Sir, I should read it, where the line 
Is blank on Treason's register, belongs 
To him, the youngest Strozzi, — to Alberto ? 
Why ! this is gross, and overstrains belief! - 
I that ne'er loved thee, yet have held thee wise- 
Wilt thou, who hast betrayed all else, betray 
Thy wit itself in this, — young Albert leagued 
With ruffian brawlers 'gainst the Medici ! 
He, the boy poet, gentlest among those 
Who are most gentle— he ! — Alberto ! — one, 
Who never yet conspired, but how to win 
The tear from pity for the thing he loved ! 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 21 

Him, the twin orphan ! him wouldst thou arraign ! 
Take heed, Lorenzo ! on this boy and maid 
Men's vows do most attend of all who dwell, 
Thou knowst it, in our city — On my life 
And fame the lad is wronged ! 

Lorenzo. 

.Yet, by forged proofs, 
(Lend me thy counsel) i ? the court that meets 
Here, in the palace, on the turn of noon, 
Will he be judged for traitor — his young blood 
Measured in full as forfeit, and his name, 
With all estates in which his Sister shares, 
Be utterly condemned — 

BlANCA. 

I tell thee, No !~ 
Thou dost belie the Duke — 

Lorenzo. 

Young Laura — 

BlANCA. 

Hold! 
Fll read thy thoughts no further — 
Lorenzo. 

F the streets, 
At market, church, ^tis bruited — Bid her yield, 
Thou'lt mend my Cousin's humour, which but frets 
Upon her challenge/ 

BlANCA. 

Thou art said, Lorenzo, 
Beyond all men, to read our woman's heart, 
To measure all within it, and to know 



22 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act i. 

Our light affections, as our stronger love — 
Say ! will the maiden falter ? 

Lorenzo. 

There's no light 
More true in heaven, than her chastity — 
Spotless as flowers on Apennine, snow fed. 
Her will, as his, is constant. — Hurts may follow, 
I' the which your state may suffer, and all else 
That hangs upon the name of Medici — 
I love thee, Duchess, — nay ! as cousins love, — 
(Is not the Duke my cousin ?) and would set 
Thee back in Vallombrosa, where no breath 
Of the foul city's air may reach thee, where 
Nor hate, nor faction e'er disturbed thy reign 
O'er village hearts imperial. — Retire 
Midst Arno's flowers ; teach the young vine respect, 
That to its neighbour olive it may cling 
Making the grove one family — -Our homes 
Will lack home's quiet here i' the city, — Mark ! 
Ere next our burghers change good morrow ! 

BlANCA. 

What, — Heaven keep the Duke, doth lurk of harm be- 
neath 
Thine eye's dark meaning ? — Ah ! there's treason in't ! - 
Who lives, that dares !'- 

Lorenzo. 
Allori walks in Florence; 
He whom the Commons love, young Lionardo, 
To Laura plighted in love's promise — Think, 
For treason's alchemy what elements 
Are mixed in him and ready ! - 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 23 

BlANCA. 

Is this true ? 
Lorenzo. 

F the wink of this day's morning, 'neath the wall 

West of Sienna's gate, where drowsy boors 

And early chapmen tarry 'till the hour 

Be chimed^ that bids them enter — there, disguised. 

As Lombards when they travel, one who rode, 

(My falcon groom) long noted him, apart, 

And sole of waking eye, of those who staid 

Upon the day's exchange — A soldier's hilt, 

(My fellow marked it) graced his weapon, which, 

Twice, as he mused, he clutched, and half drew forth — 

Now, should'st thou stay, would not the Duke's belief 

Be strong in thy consent with young Alberto ? 

My cousin's will doth grow on hindrance — 

BlANCA. 

Peace ! 
He is my husband, fellow ! — Men who fear, 
Yet do not curse him — Thou wouldst prove him cruel ? 
Aye ! — didst thou say, to-night ? 'Tis false — no thing 
I've sworn, that's gentle, child, or woman, e'er 
Shall call him tyrant — Till Alberto's grace 
Be drawn and sealed, as I would have it, I 
Do hold my watch in Florence — Dost thou mark me ? 

[Exit BlANCA. 
Lorenzo. 

So! 
She is his honour's nurse, and when it sickens, 
Sits closer than before — Aye ! 'tis the code 



24 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 

Of woman's love, — yet here my creed fell short — 
111 done should be well mended — Thou art strange, 
Bianca, in our city, and wilt need 

An usher — [after a pause) Aye !- Scoroncolo shall tend 
thee. [Exit Lorenzo. 



ACT II. 

SCENE I. — Antechamber to Council Room. 

Alberto and Laura. 

Alberto. 

Nay rather smile ! Oh ! bitter penalty ! 

To quit one^s drowsy home, — compelled to view 

All that is fair abroad ! — They never won 

My tears, those busy men of history, 

The banished children of an angry State, 

Who to their foes bequeath distasteful homes, 

With the fair earth and leisure in exchange. 

Laura. 

Alas ! the world is but the exile's prison, 
His world is in the home he leaves behind ! 

i\LBERTO. 

Oh ! spare thy pity, Sister ! — When I travel, 
There will be one, to share my wanderings. 
Not he, not Lionardo : — Nay, the ear 
Of love, is subtle, as the airy harp, 
That in the breath of every careless wind 
Finds its own music — else, why blushing ? One, 



26 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act ii. 

(Not he !) who'll follow over hill and flood, 
If I but lead, and thank me for the toil — 
One, who when others laugh, and I am sad, 
Will chuse for sorrow, — hoarding up the smiles, 
That gay occasion might have tempted forth, 
For merrier welcome of my mirth's return — 
Oh ! she will dedicate herself to me, 
Her thoughts, her toil, her leisure— tell me, Laura ! 
Who is my fellow outlaw ? 

Laura. 

Ah forbear 
Thus with thy idle fancies to beguile 
My sadness, suiting better with the love 
I bear thee, than these tear-forestalling smiles — 
And shall we go together ? Shall our home 
Be yet unbroken, though a banished one ? 
Oh ! we will wander gaily through the world, 
As when in childhood we together strayed 
In quest of sport on yonder Fiesole — 
Our father's roof will shade a dearer home 
When we have left it ; and the orphan pair 
Will find their solace in the thoughts that cling 
By memory's ivy tendrils to its walls — 
The Arno's stream that flows beneath the bower 
Our mother called her own, will roll its tide 
More gently, more refreshingly, when viewed 
Beneath the light which recollection lends 
To streams that were the bath of infancy — 
All will be dearer when we live away ! 
And thus, Alberto, our discourse shall feed 
On sweeter fancies — 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 27 

Alberto. 
Tears for smiles ! Revenge 
Ne'er bargained closer — See Jiow fast the drops 
Count quittance of thy claim — Usurious maid ! 
To mulct me for such scanty loan of mirth 
In sorrow* s lavish coin. Think, should they come, 
With notice of my doom, whatever it be, 
Fd rather drain my blood from out my veins^ 
Till none remained, than that one little drop 
Or more or less, should on my cheek be seen, 
When at their bar I'm chid, and set to listen. 



SCENE II. 
Enter Guard [from Council.) 

Laura. 
Ah ! see ! their weapons drawn ! chains too and fetters ! 
Fly ! brother ! 

Alberto. 
To my side ! stand closer ! 
Officer. 

You! 
Alberto Strozzi^ i'the Duke's name attached, 
Appear before the Council, there to answer 
Grave charge of treason — Pardon, Sir, our duty 
Herein is rude, that we must bind you — 
Laura, {aside) 

Now 
I read thee true, Bianca ! 



28 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act ii. 

Alberto. 

Is^t for speech, 
Or acted treason, that your warrant notes me ? 
I am no rebel ! 

Officer. 
You are written such, 
With others, on the face of certain sheets 
Missing their trust, and to the Duke betrayed 
By chance that here was loyal — we follow ! — 
Alberto. 

Stay 
Thou here, dear Sister ! till I come — some pen, 
Whose trick is that it slips, hath stained our name. 
Nay ! dost thou tremble ? Sit awhile ! we*ll laugh 
O^er this at supper time — [Exit ivith Officer. 

Laura. 

Chasten my fancy, 
Kind Heaven ! if its creatures be not thine ! 
And pardon these imaginings of ill 
That question hope and mercy — Oh ! I read, 
In this forged plea, more than his eyes yet note, 
Whose shame with mine is here contrived — her words 
Who warned, yet do not help me — 



SCENE III. 

Enter Michael hastily from Council. 
Michael. 

There's a plague, 
Like Egypt's flies, abroad — deceit — i } the which 



sc. in.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 29 

All men are spotted — 

Laura. 

Tell me! Greek? 
Michael. 

Thy brother 
Is cheated of his life — some cunning hand 
Hath registered his name on treasons list; 
To which my oath was warrant — 
Laura. 

Didst thou listen, 
And yet not challenge those who slandered him ! 
Shame on thy silence that consented here ! 
Truths fear is falsehood's stay — 
Michael. 

Thine ear ! yet closer ! 
'Twas Medici's own hand that forged the lie- 
Bid princes question it — what boots denial, 
Such as I bring, to power's affirmative ? 

Laura. 
Away ! thou'rt craven — let me forth ! — 
Michael. 

Forbear ! 
I'the full and gaping court ! men's sight would strain, 
As if 'twere vision crossed — clerks and rude criers 
Would elbow where they stood, for closer notice 
Of her, the maiden pleader. — Wilt thou brave 
This questioning of looks, thou, to whose nature 
All fears are equal, ignorant of all ? 
Thine eyes would quail beneath such scrutiny, 
And close to 'scape it. 



30 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act ii. 

Laura. 

Tush ! the fear that blushes, 
Sits not in danger's eye — hath in't no grief — 
Let all who will look on — a maiden's tongue 
Without rebuke, may here be eloquent. 
Stand from me ! 

Michael. 
Hark ! the court breaks up — your plea 
Were now too late — 

Laura. 

False Greek ! 

Michael. 

Give to this scandal 
No louder tongue than what it talks with now — 
Adieu ! the knaves who thrust me from the court, 
Would track me further, should they here overtake me — 
Take comfort ! He who rules the issue, 
Though of quick blood, was ever gentle — bear 
To the Duke's ear — 

Laura. 
Away ! {Running to Alberto, who 
enters, guarded, from the Council.) 
Michael. 

Lo ! by what signs 
My riddle is told out ! Thou beetle wit ! 
To creep so long, and yet to miss the light 
In which thy task was set — See ! in her blushes, 
Shame strives with anger for the deeper red. 
Thou hot and giddy prince, unwholesome blood 
Stirs here against thee, — such as never ran 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 31 

Fthe vein love fills. — To-morrow! {musing) 'tis soon 
read! 

[Exit Michael. 



SCENE IV. 

Alberto and Laura (advancing). 
Alberto. 
How is it with thee/ Laura ? 

Laura. 

Fthe prison, — aye ! 
J Twere better, — none would seek us. — In thy shadow 
They would not see me, brother — come ! 
Alberto. 

What fear 
Is this that vexes thee ? Thou'rt ever safe — 
For who would harm thee, Laura ? 
Laura. 

My girl's brain 
Was giddy — let us go ! 

(Officer ivithout) 

Room for the Duke ! 
Laura. 
Quick ! brother, (to the Guard) Sirs, ye loiter on your 

charge, 
We are your prisoners, and should not be staid 
On the Duke^s passage — he would chide ye — 



32 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act ii. 



SCENE V. 

Enter Duke with Lorenzo and Guards, from Council, 

Duke. 

Come 
To where we are most private, yet, dost mark ! — 
Use gentle haste, — I'll wait thee ! 
Lorenzo. 

She is there ! 
And see ! would greet thee- — 
Duke. 

Chance hath crossed us — 
Laura. 

Stay! 
In mercy, Alessandro, — I would plead, — 
Scatter our stores, — pluck down our dwelling, — blot 
Our father's ^scutcheon from your lists of honour — 
Nay, drive us forth to beg for foreign bread — 
Thus will I bless thee, — if but thus ! 
Duke. 

It shames 
Our knighthood, lady, that thy knee is down. 
Rise, gentle Laura ! 

Laura. 
Hear me at thy feet ! 
I sue but for his life — 

Alberto, {raising her) 
Up sister mine ! 
Stoop but for Heaven's eternity — we spoil 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 33 

The thing we kneel for, when to man we kneel— 
On Sirs! to prison ! 

Duke. 

Lorenzino, thou 
Must here interpret for my will, that speaks 
Against its use, i'the harsh and borrowed tongue 
Of greybeards, and their code, necessity. — ■ 
My cousin will attend thee, lady ! (to Guard) Use 
All courtesy i'the watch ye keep. [Exit Duke. 

Lorenzo. 

Poor babes ! 
Ye're frighted at a jest — trust me — no more — 
A wager 'gainst our senate's loyalty — 
Urged on my cousin's humour — His belief, 
Though jest be written on its face, is staked 
For their approval of the charge. — Thou'lt see- 
Such civil rogues are Judges in the land — 
Then give his frolic charter ! 

Laura (to Alberto.) 

Come ! we listen, 
As babes i'the dark to what we fear to know. 
They mock us, — Brother ! 

Lorenzo (to Officer of Guard.) 

On this word, thou'rt free 
To give all, passage — Let the maiden bide 
Unquestioned, in his cell. Good day till even ! 

[Exeunt Alberto and Laura guarded. 



34 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act ii. 

SCENE VI. 

Enter Scoroncolo. 

Lorenzo. 
Now ! bird ! hast lodged him ? 

Scoroncolo. 

Pthe porch. — What word 
Is that we hold for signal ? 

Lorenzo. 

Laura. Thus, 
Thou'lt lead him to our chamber ; there to bide, 
Fast till I come. 

Scoroncolo. 
His sword, as was your bidding, 
Stays with him — 

Lorenzo. 
It is well — his weapons use 
Will chafe him less than empty-handed leisure, 
In the lone chamber of our revels — was he 
Quick, or of moody carriage ? 

Scoroncolo. 

Of slow step — 
Lorenzo. 
Go to ! I know him — Hast thou set the arras 
As I would have it ? — let it mask the walls 
Most, where they're pictured— dost thou mark me — screen 
Each several corner, till the hangings meet, 
And circle what's within — disguise the pannels, 
And trick the casement out, to cheat the eye 



sc. vi.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 35 

Most customed in their notice — 
Scoroncolo. 

I was busy 
In this strange calling, when your warrant came, 
For service i'the street — What furniture 
Is needed, lies within the chamber. 
Lorenzo. 

Think ! 
If he, my soul's arch enemy, — he, whom, 
Upon my prayer, thou dost agree to curse, 
Though without name, — think ! in this gallant's stead, 
If he were lodged in yonder cabinet; — ■ 
(Oh! it is pity) how occasion's use 
Would market for revenge ! 

Scoroncolo. 

Is he then doomed ? 
Lorenzo. 
I live, that he may die — Dull hound ! what thing 
E'er won my hate, that kept it, and grew old I 
Well ! smooth thy brow ! How shouldst thou hunt him, 

who 
Art hoodwinked, and though staunch, hast yet no scent ? 

Scoroncolo. 
May the plague rot him ! though my tribe's best blood 
Be poisoned in the wish — 

Lorenzo. 

Oh that a shadow 
To so much fury should be creditor ! 
'Fore Heaven ! gossip — thou shalt wag thy beard 
Ere long, against his frown, — aye ! face to face, 



36 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act it, 

I'll set thee up, how say'st thou ? in my quarrel. 
And bid thee win it — 

Scoron. 

Would it were to-night ! 
Lorenzo. 
Be in thy prayer Fate's prophet, that th' event 
May be no later than its challenge— Come, 
At even, to the chamber, where thy work 
E'en now was set, — and hasten to its end. — 
Thou'lt deck it then without more hindrance — He, 
Our prisoner, perchance, may be advised 
To lend thy labour help — 

Scoron. 

I will approve, 
Unhelped, my labour good — 

Lorenzo. 

Thou shalt be tested, 
To the full sway and bias of thy love. 
Look to Bianca ! Night and the deeds that match 
Its pall that hides them, may, when next we meet, 
Lend to our speech its argument— Away ! 

[Exit Scoroncolo. 
Lorenzo (solus.) 
Aye ! thou art ripe ! HI pluck thee now, Scoroncolo ! 
Three years ! nay, — longer, — I have nursed thee, close, 
As mothers do their babes — still for this end ! 
To-night approves thee — First, a word i' the ear 
Of those who wait, — and then to him, our guest 
1' the chamber, where, as on a player's stage, 
Our scene is set, and must be acted through — 



sc. vii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 37 

Yet should he not consent ! — no matter! thou 
Art caged, young Lionardo, and must chuse 
If not to help, yet not to mar their work 
Who hold thee — Next, — to Alessandro ! — fie! 
While yet I loiter, he doth chafe i' the haste 
Of his love's errand — wilt thou chide me, Duke ? 

[Exit. 



SCENE VII. 

Lorenzo's private chamber — The walls painted with 
subjects of joyous character — Large folds of loose tapestry 
on the floor. Large door in flat, and one concealed in 
pannel. 

Enter (by door in flat) Scoroncolo conducting 
Lionardo. 

Scoroncolo. 

This way ! young gallant ! Nay, step closer — See ! 
Thy foot doth tread upon a crowned king; 
I' the very beard and front of majesty — 
Thou'lt mar the fable — 

Lionardo. 
^Tis the bath, methinks, 
Of Agamemnon — even so, — what's here ? 
Sardanapalus, and Caligula ! 
All bloody ! — art thou chamberlain, whose task 
Is set to trick this arras ? There's a bevy 
Of loves and trooping dryads on the wall, 
That, were the chamber mine, should ne'er give place 



38 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act u. 

To such grim company as this, which now 
Thou wouldst prefer— 

SCORONCOLO. 

I am no chamberlain — 
Thou'lt speak anon with him, in whose conceit 
The wall is fashioned, — if it like thee not, 
Bid Prince Lorenzo mend it ! — 

[Ewit Scoroncolo by door in flat. 

LlONARDO. 

Ha ! — Lorenzo ! 
Am I then lured, — betrayed ! — stay, fellow ! — gone ! 
With scarce the vantage of a rapier's length — 
I will outrun thee. — {tries the door) Fast ! then is my 

sword 
Best company — come forth ! — here my disguise 
Was trusty, that it masked my weapon's hilt — 
Let's see for room ! — Alberto ! in thy quarrel, 
My love hath been too busy, that did haste 
Upon this lure to save thee — Ha ! they come ! 
This board will give me footing — 



SCENE VIII. 

Enter the Duke by concealed door inpannel. 

Duke. 

Laggard ! drone ! 
Hast thou no honey on thy wing, that here 
F the cell, thou'rt staid at suntime ? — Pander ! — cousin I 
Is the maid willing ? will she come ? 



sc. vin.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 39 

LlONARDO. 

The ear 
You speak in, Alessandro, is not apt 
I* the speech that panders use — 
Duke. 

Allori ! 

LlONARDO. 

He! 
Duke. 
Thou here ! in this the chamber of our revel ! 
Our private home, where none e^er dare intrude, 
Save the thrice chosen ; — thou, an outlawed spy ! 
Have at thee ! 

Lionardo {drawing his sword.) 
Stand upon thine own defence ; 
I have the soldier's charter for my life, 
And will maintain it. 

Duke. 
Ho ! — a rapier ! come ! 
Tore Heaven ! it fits well — my breathing time 
Holds ever to this hour — 

Lionardo {disarms him.) 

Duke ! thou art safe, — 
Now that I hold thy weapon. 

Duke. 

Let the door 
Be locked upon alarm — chuse either blade, 
My Dukedom on't ! thou 'rt foiled — 
Lionardo. 

Some cunning hand 



40 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act ii. 

Hath trapped us both, — or thou dost counterfeit, 
Who art my fellow in these toils— 
Duke. 

Where's he, 
Who led thee hither ? 

LlONARDO. 

With Lorenzo — one, 
Leashed as a bloodhound, at his beck— We 're staid, 
By gaoler's surety, locks thrice turned, and bolts 
Fast in their staple, from the outer stair — 

Duke. 
Thou art no jester, yet I fain would deem 
Thee such in this report (trying the door) — Aye ! — thou 

art here 
Lord of the den, and I thy mated prey — 
'Tis a lone chamber — wilt thou slay me ? 

Lionardo [returning sword to Duke.) 

Teach 
Thy weapon's point less haste, Duke Alessandro ! 
And so best use it ! 

Duke. 
Truce ! to be thus chidden, 
Doth more offend and prejudice my blood, 
Than if 'twere pricked to waste — 
Lionardo. 

Yet shalt thou listen ! 
Florence that loved thee once, doth hate thee now — 
Why dost thou vex her thus ? When we were boys, 
We should have struck together at her wrongs, 
And struck till they were down — Duke Medici ! 



sc. vin.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 41 

Thou hast been traitor to thy better self, 
And art what we did curse — 
Duke. 

Peace, vapouring churl ! 
Had I been less than first among ye all, 
I would have done ye right against your Duke, 
Ere that his will had tithed the twentieth part 
Of what I rate ye for — Is't not your shame, 
If he who was your fellow, — such was I, — 
Hath topped ye since ? — Enough ! we're railers both. 
Pass to my closet — thou art free ! 

LlONARDO. 

What doom 
Is sorted for Alberto ? him I seek, 
Whom now in Florence thou dost wrong the most. 
Wilt help me to his prison ? 

Duke (aside.) 

Are we matched, 
As ever, on this count — I'll win thee, Laura ! 
Though 'twere to fling thee back, a thing despised, 
For him to lift and wear ! (to Lionardo) Aye ! Lionardo ! 
There's with him what may tempt a friend to visit — 
Steps are without — this signet ! see ! *twill answer 
All challenge to thy steps — there ! by the pannel ! 
Quick ! 

Lionardo. 
Shall I trust thee ? 

Duke. 
Hence ! 
[Exit Lionardo by pannel. 



42 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act ii. 

SCENE IX. 

Enter Lorenzo with Guard, by door in flat. 

Lorenzo (to Guard.) 

Thus! should I cough, 
Step closer — (to the Duke) Sir ! you're welcome — 

there's a feast, 
Now held, that waits thee — hast thou appetite 
For that on which starved liberty doth feed ? 
We sup on treason's dish — 

Duke. 

Nay, Lorenzino ! 
Thy trap is lifted, and the quarry flown — 
What ! ever hawking for such carrion, who 
Hast the dove^s lure — speak ! is she kind ? 
Lorenzo. 

No hurts ! 
Brave ! hast thou slain him, cousin ? 
Duke. 

Dost thou sort 
My weapon, caitiff, with th* assassin's knife, 
That it should baulk thee, and forestall the hire 
Yon ruffians came to earn — thy serving men 
There in the doorway ! — I am caution, I, 
For Lionardo's health — 

Lorenzo. 
Tush ! in my hand, 
I thought, ere, mothlike, he had winged the flame, 
Safe to have caged him, 5 till the lure burnt out. 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 43 

Duke. 

Rash fool ! what seeks he, cousin, that we hold, 
Who keep our homes in Florence — Ha ! thine eye 
Doth hint of Laura — 

Lorenzo. 

Mark what narrow sight 
Is lent to him, who through love's bandage peeps ! 
Set up all womankind — he sees but one — 
Fie ! art thou wived, and is a maiden's name 
Lipped i' the front of hers, who should be first 
On thought's repeating list — 
Duke. 

Choke in the breath 
Thy lips would utter, thou dull meddler ! faugh ! 
Wouldst prove chaste Dian's self a wanton — She ! 
Fll throne her, aye ! i' the city's square at noon, 
For practice of thy knee, that it may crook 
Low as the footboard at her stool — Take heed ! — 

Lorenzo. 
Lo ! how he chafes, who cared not, till 'twas stolen, 
For what he loves when missed — what ! absolute 
O'er unwatched hearts ! o'er desert bosoms, fired, 
Like hers, who was thy bride, at wooing time, 
Then left i' the flame to waste — Quick pulsed Bianca 
Wearies of rest, and listens to the call 
Long piped by factious burghers in her ear, 
Who, with Allori, would be headed on 
To prey upon our house — Imperial Charles, 
Who played the father to thy bastard wife, 
Doth school her to his turn i' the Italian game 
Earth's princes have set up — 



44 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act ii. 

Duke. 

Dost fear him ? — Here, 
I tell thee, caitiff, Charles is less than Duke — 
I bartered not my sceptre for the bride.— 
His cunning purpose sorts with Tuscany — 
Mine is the board, — play Csesar as he will — 
See to Allori ! 

Lorenzo. 
Look thou to the dame ! 
She crosses on the smooth and ready path 
My care had levelled, that your step might follow, 
Light and unhindered to love's goal, athwart, 
I' the very pinch of fate, hope's straining point, 
That so we trip — 

Duke. 
Out, — rebel ! she is queen, 
Whom thou wouldst flout, o'er all I count for mine.— 
Are we not mated ? 

Lorenzo. 
Bid thy Duchess home ; 
Ere Laura, whom she lessons, be unschooled, 
And learn another hope than what I teach, 
For ransom of her playmate's liberty — 
Already — 

Duke. 
I'll not hear thee — peace — thy wit 
Is ever dodging with conspiracy — 
I tell thee, cousin, 'tis a cackling bird, 
That addles what it lays — Bianca false ! 
Out on thee ! 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 45 

Lorenzo. 

Nay ! this night ! 
Duke. 

Are treason's eggs 
So near the hatching — get thee hence ! — 'till noon 
To-morrow, thou art Duke, my warrant thine ; — 
Set guards at every door, — be each man's home 
His prison, — that who brawls, may brawl apart. 
To night I hold love's watch, and brook no challenge, 
Save his, upon my round — the countersign, — 
Thou hast it, — Laura ! 

Lorenzo. 
She denies thee. 
Duke. 

Hark ! 
We sup with those who revel — ere the board 
Be drawn, thou'lt bid me to her chamber — Hence ! 
'Till she be willing, thou art spared — 
Lorenzo. 

What rag 
Canst lend me, cousin, or what bauble, that 
May bear me out for duke — 

Duke. 

Is't not enough, 
That men read Medici beyond the name 
That mocks thee, Lorenzino ? — Spite of devils ! 
Who's he, that lets us — I'll go sleep — like hinds, 
Who sweat i 5 the morning sun, to win their rest, 
Have I not toiled, thou know'st it, since high noon ? — 
Tasked with yon mousing counsellors, who search 



46 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act it. 

'Mid parchment heaps, my will's authority. — 

Let there be music in the gallery 

Without my chamber, such a gentle quire, 

As best may woo her image to my dreams, 

Who is my fancy's queen — Hence ! the day wanes ! 

And night should find me waking ! — 

Lorenzo. 

Dost thou fear 
No visions, Cousin, that might trouble sleep — 
Unbidden of the lute or pipe's soft breath — 
Such ugly shadows as pale treason hangs 
Within his eye who mocks her — curtained there 
And busy, though he sleep — 

Duke. 

Ill boding churl ! 
Wouldst have me, as the moody tyrant, sit 
'Twixt day and night in fear equivocal, 
Guessing my chamber uses into shapes 
Of starved rebellion, and rude mutiny ? — 
How ! with the bloodhound and his groom to wake, 
Who lie i'the portal ! {stumbles on loose tapestry) There's 

no footing left 
Upon these boards — What dark and musty web, 
Is this thou'rt hanging ! fie on't ! wouldst thou deck 
This, our mirth's shrine, as salesmen do their halls ! 
What's in thy humour ? 

Lorenzo. 
A device to stay 
Our mirth, when loudest, from its echo — thus 
No sound can 'scape into her ear, who sleeps 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 47 

West o' the gallery, in our casement's front, — 

Mona Maria, the dame mother, tells 

Her gossips i 5 the palace, that our jests, 

Of late, are loud and ruffian- voiced- — our lamps 

Burn dim i' the morning light — One more such revel 

Will quit us on the count in which we're bound, 

To him from Hungary, our vintner, Giomo ! — 

Duke. 
A bout then ! let it be — hence ! — I would bathe, — 
Thou know'st my custom, ere I sleep — 
Lorenzo. 

Good rest ! — 
[Exit Duke by the pannel, and Lorenzo by outer door. 



ACT III. 

SCENE I. — An open square. 

Time — Evening . 

Michael (solus). 

This footstone is my stand — whence, as men pass, 
That are my signs, I read. And best he scans 
Fate's wide horizon, who unroofed and free, 
Looks out, as doth the augur, when, elate, 
He questions of the sky that covers all, 
What chances are abroad. Time's hand is busy, 
Overtasked and full, that he who looks, may glean 
The work's event, by scantlings, ere 'tis done. 
Young Albert's name doth i'the city work 
As quick and angry ferment to men's blood, 
Turning its patient use to hate, that seethes 
Against his hand who stirs it — Alessandro ! 
Thy ducal cap sits loose, and, as men say, 
Were better fitted with thy cousin's head. 
Still are ye first, whose name is Medici, 
Of all we count in Florence — Aye ! ye're chosen 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 49 

For patrons in her need to beggared Greece, 
And therefore rule to serve her — 



SCENE II. 

Enter Scoroncolo hastily. 
Scoron. 

Brief ! good Michael • — 
Thy sight ne'er dozes — Who hath passed i'the step 
I follow, since half chimes ? 

Michael. 

None worth the noting, — 
Save, — an 'twere Lorenzino !— but thou'rt trained 
For ruder sport — 

Scoron. 
A dame ? 

Michael. 

Such as men's eyes 
Most covet, — of quick step, and nicely hidden 
I'the veil she graced — 

Scoron. 
Tall? 
Michael. 

As Bianca. 
Scoron. 

Lo! 
How limps our Tuscan wit, that would o'ertake 
Like ends i'the match with thine — I list thee, Greek ! 
Wilt track her ? 

E 



50 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act in. 

Michael. 
To her sheets. — 

SCORON. 

Enough! she'll cross, 
Ere long, upon thy stand — Poor dame ! thou'rt staid, 
Where every rogue finds charter for his visit, — 
Barred from the gaoler's home ! — Think, Michael, she, 
Whom Spanish Charles did call his palace Queen, 
When she was maid, — his housewife, and such names 
As doting sires to their girl moppets lend — 

Michael. 
Is't the Duke^s bidding ? He was wont, herein 
Less kind, to salve with courtesy the wound 
His love had left to fester — 

Scoron. 

Tush ! Lorenzo 
Is captain of the prison,— know'st thou what bird 
Is caged with young Alberto in his cell — 
Poor linnet ! 

Michael. 
Is't with Laura she would speak ? 
Scoron. 
With her lord's lady love — Note well her step, 
How set ! where led ! — Thanks ! — I am tasked till night ? 
With a groom's office in the chamber, where 
They meet who are boon fellows with the duke — 
Come to me there ! 

Michael. 
What is't, good bully ? 
Scoron. 

Come 



sc. in.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 51 

Anon, and thou shalt see — a piece o s the will 

My captain lends for service. — On the walls 

He sets new arras, and, would'st think it, I, 

Scoroncolo, his swordsman, with none else, 

Am trickster in the work. Thou'lt come ! 

Michael. 

Which gate 

Would'st have me challenge ? 

Scoron. 

That o'the waters side 
Last met — Be close ! 

Michael. 

At even ? 
Scoron. 

Be not late !— - 
Yet fear not to be so, till the day wane — 
Tis she ! Thou'lt lodge her ? 

Michael. 

To thy hammer ! Hence ! 
Set thy nails home. [Exit Scor.] Hangings ! — 
Thou'rt born to hang ! 



SCENE III. 
Enter Bianca. 

BlANCA. 

Now fellow ! — say ! — So,~thou art Michael — Tell me, 
If the duke's name be mine ? 



52 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act hi. 

Michael. 

Nay, madam ! 

BlANCA. 

What's he who keeps the prison ? 
Michael. 



Peace ! 



As I think, 
One late preferred — 

Bianca. 
A lean ill favoured churl ? 
Michael. 
Pardon ! his face reports not of his calling ; — 
He that I speak of, is in feature smooth ; 
The sample of his talk, thin skinned and fair, — 
He fattens in his office, and yet weeps, 
'Tis said, o'er that which feeds him — 

BlANCA. 

The starved cur, 
That hunts for ofTal in the prison drain, 
Shall with him measure sides, and wag content 
To be the better hound. 

Michael. 
If his rebuke 
Be in your Grace's wrong, — Duke Medici — 

Bianca. 
What! — dost thou mock me ? — Well ! such was his wont— 
I will believe thee, Greek ! — Duke Alessandro, 
Thou'lt swear it, will be quicker than th'event 
Of self-conceiving time, a moment's birth, 
To do me right, who am his Duchess — 



sc. in.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 53 

Michael. 

Shame 
Be on his head whose breath hath stirred — 

BlANCA. 

Thou'rt bold 
To give my humour note — Go to ! What pity 
Thine eye would spare, keep for yon caitiff's use, 
The hangman's steward there, lord of the gaol, 
Where, till his life be drained, — bear thou what's spoken 
To the knave's ear, — I whom he flouted, I, 
Will chain him fasting — 

Michael. 

Only this, Bianca ? 

BlANCA. 

Greek ! shall I trust thee ? 

Michael. 

By my country's shame ! 
My own sharp need ! — 

Bianca. 
Well !— thou hast wit — Bianca 
Is still a helping name. Why I have sought 
Yon prison, thou hast guessed — She I would greet, 
Is fair and gentle, — a poor weeping maid, 
Who prays i'the cell with him late doomed — What hope 
Still feeds her, thou wilt nourish — dost thou mark ? 
His life is gaged by mine, by his, the one 
In Florence most assured — this shalt thou swear — 
Away ! the means are in thy cunning — Yet ! 
Thine ear ! — Forget that with a brawler's part 
Anon I tasked thee — Fie ! 'twould grace the fellow, 



54 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act hi. 

To change with him in angry syllables 
The Caesar's humour 'gainst a hireling's spleen — 
I think not of him — Thou'lt remember! — [Exit. 

Michael {solus.) 

Duke ! 
Thy loves are troubled — on that sea thou'lt founder, 
Though chartered there till now — Lo ! thou art driven, 
No anchor left, lewd rover, to thy wreck ! 
What dark unfathomed chances lie beyond, 
None else, save he, may sound, whose venture now, 
As ever, pilots thine {musing) — New hangings set!-* 
In the lone chamber where they revel ! {after a pause) 

Ha! 
We'll talk at supper, Cosmo, of what stirs 
Behind Lorenzo's arras ; for 'tis thou 
Who on Fate's roll art blazoned next for Duke — 

[Exit. 



SCENE IV.— A Prison. 
Time — Evening. 

Laura with a lute — Alberto sleeping in recess. 
Bell without. 

Laura. 
They come ! — Alberto ! Brother ! — Hath my finger 
Such leaden touch, that on thine ear it weighs, 
Close as the night at hushing time ? — Poor knave ! 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 55 

How fast thou'rt laid ! yet see ! — That bell's rude notice 
Hath made my lute a trembler — 



SCENE V. 

Enter Officers with Lionardo. 

Laura. 

Sirs ! be gentle, 
I pray ye, in your step — Hell wake ! My lute 
That hushed him, (nay, tread softly) shall be loud, 
And bid him forth to greet ye — 

Lionardo {advancing.) 
Laura S 
Laura. 

Wake ! 
Alberto ! brother! — Is it he ? 

Alberto. 

Who calls ?— 
Here ! to my side ! — What frights thee ? 
Laura (to Lionardo.) 

Oh ! thou'rt welcome 
As day stars to the nightwatch — Brother! — Thou 
Shouldst speak our greeting 

Alberto. 

In my dream, a shadow, 
Thy counterfeit, Allori, bade me forth — 
Methought 'twas early day- — On Fiesole, 



56 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iii. 

Glad with light toil, and in the sunbeam's path, 
We halted for our breath — Oh ! the fair city ! 
Cradled, and waking in the vale beneath — 
Fast, as we gazed, the curtained mist to Heaven, 
Stirred by its breath, and looped with silver, rose ; 
Earth's shower to the skies — On the high Dome, 
On every spire, each turret — on the roof 
Of burgher, noble, all whom Florence holds, 
Strozzi or Pazzi, on thy roof and mine, 
Light, the day's guard, stood sentinel. — Alone, 
We marked it, Lionardo, 'mid the fires 
Bright on each thrifty lattice, his proud vane, 
That doth o'ertop the city, was night's perch, 
Where brooding, still she sat. — Her raven wing 
O'er-shadowed the long pile that i* the sun, 
Like an unwholesome thing, did blacken. — In 
This presage, as we shouted, I awoke — 
And thou wert here, — yet wherefore ? 
Lionardo. 

Tush ! the air 
I breathed, when yonder, was too thin— It drew 
The life, and wholesome colour from my cheek. 
No matter ! — thou art doomed — 
Alberto. 

Speak on ! 
Laura. 

Great Heaven 
Watch o'er my brother ! 

Alberto. 

Must I die for jesting ? 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 57 

Laura. 
Death ! 

Alberto. 
Thou art free — unguarded — say ! thou'lt lead 
My sister to the hills — see ! her pale cheek 
Lacks its twin rose— away ! 

LlONARDO. 

This signet — aye ! — 
'Tis Medici's — gives answer to all challenge 
That lets me — question not my finger, how 
'Twas fitted. — Thou art doomed. — Fthe porch below, 
E'en now, their council's warrant, as I came, 
Set forth for license of the prison stair, 
Waits till Lorenzo come. — He, 'tis, will read 
The curst and savage letter of its text ; 
And thou must listen. 

Laura. 

Heed him not, my brother ! 
They will not harm thee. 

Alberto. 

What thou know'st of harm 
That comes, I pray thee tell, — else may Lorenzo, 
Earth's and mens 5 mocker, spy a shame i' the hue 
And notice of my lip. 

LlONARDO. 

They're merciful, 
Who judge thee, — chuse the gallies for thy home, 
And at their cost thou shalt be reared, till age 
O'ertake thy coming manhood — Drag their chain, 
With felons i' the dock, and thou may'st live. 



58 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act hi. 

Alberto. 
No choice but this, Allori ? [Bell rings.) 

LlONARDO. 

Hark* 

Alberto. 

That bell, 
A moment past, had struck too early. Now ! 
Look on my cheek ! is't pale ? — There's fire i' the vein 
That fills it — Slaves ! I choke i' the breast — the gallies ! 
Thou'lt see me die, Allori ! — Sister ! — 
Laura. 

There 
Spoke our dead father. — Oh ! brave heritage, — 
His spirit and its bearing ! — 'Tis himself! 
The very trick o' his nostril, when defiance 
Had gathered in his breath to welcome fate 
In honour's quarrel. — 



SCENE VI. 

Enter Officer. 

Officer. 
I' the Duke's name, Lorenzo 
Doth summon thee, young sir ! — Be pleased to follow ! 

Laura. 
Go, ere I fright thee, brother ! 

{faints in Alberto's arms.) 
Alberto. 

Ah ! Fate's breath 



sc. vii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 59 

Hath blown too rudely here. — Will she ne'er wake ? 
Fie on thee, Laura ! — oh, lend help ! — speak thou ! 
She loves thy voice, Allori ! — off sirs ! — speak S 
While yet she breathes — 

LlONARDO. 

Vex not her gentle spirit 
It rests from sorrow, but still owes its task — 
True as the dove, that sought the troubled ark, 
Though peace was on her flight, — to its sad housing 
Anon it will return — On the soul's night 
The eyes still open — 

Officer. 
Sir ! it is my service, — 
Let not its speech interpret for my will, — 
That bids thee hence — 

Alberto. 
Your pardon ! — Thou, Allori, 
Shalt bear my charge. E'en lay it on thy bosom, — 
Tell her 'twas I — farewell ! [Exit with Officer. 



SCENE VII. 

Lionardo supporting Laura. 

Brave spirit ! — Laura ! 
Thus pillowed, yet so pale !— alas ! thy cheek 
Forgets its trick of blushing — Medici ! 
Thou ow'st me blood for this. 

Laura {recovering.) 

Hush ! they overtake us ! — 



60 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act hi, 

Be not so loud — mount warily — yet faster ! 
Spur, Lionardo ! 

Lionardo. 
Nay ! look up ! conceit 
Is with thee, Laura — 

Laura. 
Gone ! already dead ! 
This didst thou see — oh shame ! — be silent — else 
Thou'lt mar what settles — Yea ! their messenger 
Talked till my brain grew dizzy, with foul promise 
Of whips, and garbaged food, and fevered jails, — 
Of reeking lazars, — ditches used for graves — 
Oh ! my poor wits ! 'twas thou — 
Lionardo. 

Self torturing fancy 
Doth here report of its own circumstance — 
Dost thou not know me, Laura ! — Hath our parting 
Thus beggared thee of tears, that none are left 
To drain for welcome's use — 

Laura. 

True ! — I would weep, — 
For tears are sent to temper the dull edge 
Of heavy grief, that so its wounds may close ; 
Else doth it bruise the heart. — 'See by what token 
I greet thee, Lionardo ! [giving him a ring) 
Lionardo. 

Thou art mine — 
Laura. 
Hark! — It is he — I love thee — Go ! 



sc. viii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. CI 

SCENE VIII. 

Enter Lorenzo. 

Lorenzo. 

This wicket 
Is hinged aright, i' the fashion of its use — 
Not as the courtier's pannel, oiled and ready, 
At every finger's wag — faith ! Lorenzino ! 
The task hath matched my sinews — Page or dame, 
(They rate me thus, Allori,) had been foiled— 
Thou'lt tell my cousin, when he banters me — 
Pass, lady, to thy brother ! — Sirs, give passage, — 
Your pardon, sir, — (to Lionardo who is conducting her) 

with conduct to his cell. 
Sir, it is scant of room — 

Lionardo. 

Thou'rt rude — 
Laura (to Lionardo.) 

Take heed ! 
The close webbed spider, and the serpent's coil 
To these foul airs are native — 

Lorenzo. 

Lo ! Day's shadow, 
On which the night is treading, hath become 
Earth's general carpet — Lady, with the morrow, 
Thy brother stirs betimes — F the people's square 
At noon — 

Laura. 
What else ? 



62 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act hi. 

Lorenzo. 

V the warrant here he dies — 
Laura. 
"Tis false — -Thou'lt swear it false ! — Such wrong 
Ne'er stirred against just Heaven. — 

[Exit hastily with Guard. 



SCENE IX. 

LlONARDO. 

Art thou man ? 
Thus doth the hearth-bred tiger mouse with life, 
And plague the thing it kills — 

Lorenzo. 

'Tis a curst humour ! 
Gall, as men say, i' the blood that to our house 
Is common. — He doth slander us, who doubts 
If men may yet be reared in Tuscany — 
Is't not a trick of Rome these children teach ? 
Rome young i" 1 the world, republican and great, — 
When consuls made, not tyrants marred the laws. 
His lip ! — her brow ! — didst note them ? Roman both ! 
Oh Sir ! we do not lack inheritance 
Of Heaven's spark, but do not use the breath 
That blows it into flame. — The eagle lives, 
Though kept from soaring — 

LlONARDO. 

What of Rome yet stays 
In Florence, may, thou know'st it, in this doom 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 63 

Find life, and quicken to your house's ruin — 
There's fear in each man's home, and freedom's sword 
Plucked on this need of one, for help to all, 
Will beckon to rebellion. — Be advised — 
The boy should live — 

Lorenzo. 
I' the coil his death would bring, 
There's health for all, save us, the Medici ; — 
This thou would'st say, — nay more, — that freedom 

wakes, 
As erst, in Florence — Thou art dreaming, — No ! 
How should it dwell with luxury, the guest 
Of every noble, every child of trade ? — 
This our worst plague, and then servility, 
More pleased to make its self debasing bow, 
Than arrogance to note it. — These are weeds 
Choking the germs of wholesome destiny; 
The lad must die. — I'the street no stir will follow — 
The crowd that gathers where the scaffold stands, 
Is there for gain, — doth not keep holiday : 
And he the wretch condemned must die to prove 
Them rich by what he loses — 

Lionardo. 

It were vain 
To grapple with the headsman for the life 
That Medici condemns. — Yet, would I know, 
Has it thy voice, this bloody doom that sets 
In every bosom a particular fear, 
I' the which your house must suffer ! 
Lorenzo. 

Dost thou deem, 



64 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [ ACT ,n. 

Beneath this mask of angry majesty 

My cousin wears, there lurks no gentler wish, 

Than matches with his frown — If thou wouldst win 

Alberto's grace, e'en play the suitor for't — 

And win it from a lady ! 

Lionardo. 
Thou dost borrow 
More licence than finds warrant in my blood.— 

Lorenzo. 
Be calm, Allori ! — I have known thee long; 
And Thought, the moody nurse of souls preferred 
In nature's love, hath ever kept thee safe — 
You would be great, but sullen humours blight 
Your opening fortunes ; — such have long estranged 
The Duke, my cousin, from your interests — 
Yield to him ! — Fly not at so high a pitch 
I* the match for favor — what thou may'st not keep, 
Resign, and, that his grace may cease to frown, 
Bid Laura smile — 

Lionardo. 
Slave ! — art thou living still ! 
Avoid me! fly ! — I do beseech thee, fly — 
To bid thee draw, were still to murder thee — 
Still dost thou plague me ?- — [rushing at him) 

Lorenzo. 

Forward ! — He who strikes 
At Lorenzino, hath no fear beyond — 
Florence ! my country ! Florence ! he is found ! 
He of thy children, sought in vain before ! 
The son that shall deliver thee !— the heir 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 65 

Of thy young glory, such as drew the gaze 

Of envious kingdoms, ere the ravisher 

Had smutched the beauty of thy virgin brow, 

And stained thee with the kiss of tyranny — 

Be the glad city thou wert wont to be, 

When Freedom wooed thee as the only bride 

Meet for the rapture of his first embrace — 

Rejoice ! ye citizens ! — His name, the spell 

That held ye bound, is forfeit — Medici 

Hath as a byword passed, — and now in Florence, 

Allori's voice doth wake up liberty — 

Lionardo. 
Thou hast declared it — By the lights of Heaven ! 
What thou hast spoken, shall be verified 
With an event as certain, as the deeds 
Approved by time to prophets on their bond — 
What art thou, that doth seem Fate's instrument 
Set i' the path I follow ? — If thou art, 
Like the first Brutus, who content to quench 
His spirit's fiery temper for awhile 
In the slow current of enduring thought, 
Watched for the trumpet call of destiny, 
And boldly answered when the summons came ; — 
If in thy purpose thou wouldst emulate 
That patriot actor, who from folly's guise, 
Sprung up the avenger of his darling Rome — 
Pluck forth thy sword, and pledge it thus, in token, 
That Florence shall be free — 

Lorenzo. 

Curst be the slave, 

F 



66 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iit. 

Among her children, from whose coward breast 

A fall according echo is withheld 

To that bold cry ! — Tis execration's oath 

That knits our purpose closest to its end. 

Is thine arm ready ? — Wilt thou strike ? — This night 

Our task grows ripe. 

Lionardo. 
Thou hast the player's art, 
And can enact all characters at will — 
How shall I trust thee ? 

Lorenzo. 
Those whom I betrayed, 
Were traitors, double in their treachery ; — 
Men who would slay the robber for his spoil, 
To hoard it still within the robber's den — 
False lights in Freedom's path, I put them out — 
Let those who loved them, thank me. They were 

knaves, 
Be sure, not martyrs, — such, by written proof, 
Which at my lodging thou shalt read— 
Lionardo. 

What chime 
Is next upon the bell ? 

Lorenzo. 
It struck for seven— 
Thou didst not mark it, even now, i' the heat 
And clip of our discourse — 

Lionardo. 

I'll trust thee ! 
Lorenzo. 

Come 



sc. ix.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 67 

Upon the stroke of ten, — and, Sir, remember, 

We're tasked with yeoman's work; — thou'lt bring a 

stomach 
Apt and not fasting to my closet, where 
V the morning thou wert bidden — Certain friends, 
Some three or four, attend us — such as follow 
Hound like on freedom's scent, yet lack the wit 
That sets them on — Thou wilt be ready ? — 

LlONARDO. 

Time 
Is laggard till we meet — 

Lorenzo. 
Tush !— On the dial, 
I've watched, while years went round, for this night's 

hour — 
Be patient then ! — See on this chart, our game, 
Thou'lt give it careful note, played out — each ward 
And several move appointed to our means — ■ 

LlONARDO. 

I would stay with thee — 

Lorenzo. 

It would mar the revel, 
If such as thou were chamberlain. — The Duke, 
To night, doth hold a masque ; and Lorenzino 
Is he who marshals to the pageant. — Thou 
Art moody with life's sickness, and wouldst con 
Thy lesson better in Alberto's cell — 
Away ! — V the palace hot and saucy grooms 
Do clamour for my highness, by whose office, 
The wall's attire is tricked, the dances set, 



68 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 

Lights hung, and garlands wreathed. — Thou'rt droop- 
ing!— 

LlONARDO. 

Thought 
That makes thee quick, doth hold my pulses back — 
Thou'lt find me ready — 
Lorenzo (pointing to a ring on Lionardo's hand.) 
Be that ring the earnest 
Of hotter blood, and hands more willing, when 
Anon we shall discourse of our ripe means — - 
Thou'lt greet me with this token — Scoroncolo, 
My swordsman, hath our trust, and to my finger 
Will bring it on thy charge — 

LlONARDO. 

This ring doth grow 
As on the joint its sinew ; — therefore chuse 
Some other pledge — my signet ? 
Lorenzo. 

I'll not budge 
But on this notice ; — dost thou mark — the ring ! 
Away ! — we loiter — Time's least tithe to night 
In rich occasion's market hath its price — 
How say'st thou, Lionardo ? 

LlONARDO. 

We are sworn. — 

[Exeunt severally. 



ACT IV. 

SCENE I. — A Hall closed at one end by a large curtain, 

Lorenzo — Scoroncolo. 

Lorenzo. 
Why there it is ! — my hate's sour quality 
Curdles my spirit into sadness — Jests 
Are hatched with curses. — 'Twas his vantage ever, 
That in our railing, while I choked, he smiled — 
Go to ! — a waiting-woman in this pinch 
Had pricked out counsel with her bodkin's point, 
More apt and bloody than what thou hast lent — 
Thy finger-nail's least service in my quarrel, 
Were better than its threat — I tell thee, fellow ! 
His death is in my prayers — 

Scoron. 

Plagues rot him, — Guelf 
Or Ghibelline ! — Why should I lack his name, 
Who am thy henchman and sworn follower ? 
I never shamed my calling — 

Lorenzo. 

On what notice, 



70 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

(Thine ear, good fellow !) wouldst thou lend thy weapon 
To friends, upon their need ? — Occasion's eye, 
Thou knows't, is ever waking — If, — to night, — 
Perchance, — how says't thou, — it should wink ? 
Scoron. 

Is he, 
Of whom anon we talked, a bidden guest 
To this night's revel ? 

Lorenzo. 
Of the Duke's own table — 
Scoron. 
How shall I know him ? 

Lorenzo. 
To thy watch ! — yet stay ! 
Forgive me, comrade ! — Tis a spell, this humour, 
That on my spirit weighs like incubus— 
They loiter with the music ! — Come, — let's talk 
Of persons nearer in our love — Thy suit ! 
How fares it with the widow? Play the braggart, 
If thou wouldst win her— she's no sorted dame — 
Trust me, a woman, in whose horoscope 
Sworders and dicers rule th'ascendant ever — 
Let your attire be braver ! — Oh ! the quittance 
For ransom of thy head in Pazzi's quarrel, — 
Seek it to-morrow, in my chamber — Nay ! 
The gold to buy it, is thine own for service — 
It is best lodged at home — 

Scoron. 

Now ! by the oath, 
That knits us gallants of one company, 



sc. i.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 71 

And of our band makes holy brotherhood; 

I will not sleep, or eat, or drain a health, 

'Till I have whispered in his ear — the guest 

In whom thou'rt vexed, — my blessing, such good night, 

As, when his supper waits, Scoroncolo, 

Spares to the reeling gallant, — 

Lorenzo. 

If 'twere he, 
Who heads the table ? 

Scoron. 

Were it he, — the Duke, — 
I'd do it ! 

Lorenzo. 
Get to thy bed ! — Dost hear — Forget 
All, save my promise — That is fast — Good night ! 
Or do we meet at supper ? 

Scoron. 

May my sinews wither, 
If loosened from their gripe of what we hate, 
Till it be brained — 

Lorenzo. 
Whom wouldst thou slay ? — Some dozen, 
First o' the land, sit with my cousin — 
Scoron. 

Ten 
Or twenty, I have fellows at my beck, 
Enough to mate them — Wlien their throats are cut, 
Thou'lt tell us which was he — 

Lorenzo. 

Mark, in whose ear 



72 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act. iv. 

I whisper, when we drink to Medici — 

Then, if thou'rt willing, gripe thy weapon thus, — 

And let us meet upon the outer stair — 

Is it thy turn of watch ? 

Scoron. 

Till four be chimed 
From the nightfs noon, I wait on Alessandro. 

Lorenzo. 
Oh ! Fate's contrivance ! — By this hand, dost hear, 
Thou art my will's choice instrument — Remember ! 
It is a rebel's venture — He, whose death 
We undertake, is to the duke my cousin 
Dear as himself — 

Scoron. 
An 'twere himself ! — 
Lorenzo. 

Enough ! 
He comes — 



SCENE II. 

Enter Duke followed by Courtiers. 
Duke. 

Lights ! ye dull knaves — What chamberlain 
Attends us here ? — Plague on such service ! Ye 
Shall rue it — Lights ! ye curs of Tartarus ! 
My sight is thick, or is't a vapour that 
The night exhales ? — 

Courtier. 
No mist was on the lattice, 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. ) 

Now, as we passed, i' th' outer gallery — 

I looked upon the Arno, — it was bright 

In the moon's favour — Is your Highness well ? 

Duke. 
No ! — sick — believe me — very sick o' the dish 
Last served — They poison me with flattery. 
Yet, thou art honest — and my counsellor — 
Come ! wilt thou cure me ? mind ! no candied drops,- 
No honey in thy potion — Dumb ! Poor leech ! 
See if he be not scarlet — and now pale ! 
Forth, to the air ! — The breath that courtiers draw, 
Thou know'st, is tainted — it doth choke us both — 
Therefore, I pray ye, Sirs, press not our skirts 
So closely — 

Lorenzo {advancing). 
Back, Sirs ! 

Duke. 

Ha ! Love's messenger ! 
Now ! — speak of Laura ! 

Lorenzo. 

She is worth the winning, — 
If maids be priced by coyness — Prayers and threats 
Have in thy suit been waste of rhetoric — 
A cup of wine, good fellow ! 

Duke. 

While my blood 
Is cool, and thou art yet unbeaten, win 
Thy pardon by her promise — Thou art sent 
To bid me hence— Speak ! ere I strike thee ! 
Lorenzo. 

Watch 



74 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

Yon dial for my answer ; — should more minutes 

Than quarter the full hour, 'scape its reckoning, 

Ere I am bidden from the chamber, call 

Me Lorenzino if thou wilt, and deem 

That one chaste beauty dwells in Florence still — 

Duke. 
My life upon her virtue ! — Who but thou, 
Would breathe in Dian's ear the pander's hint — 
Tell her, 1 spurned thee — Did she tremble ? — Hence ! 
Alberto hath my pardon ! 

Lorenzo. 

Should I meet 
P the lobby, him she sends, — her messenger, 
Who bears the token ? — 'Tis her ring — 
Duke. 

I *the chasing, 
Her hair, I know it, is with tiny pearls 
Set round, — Say ! shall we win her ? 
Lorenzo. 

By the card 
Last in the venture — play it out — 
Chamberlain. 

The Revel 
Waits for your Highness — {Curtain withdraws, and dis- 
closes a long range of illuminated apartments ; with 
dancers in groups, masks, and assembled guests.) 
Duke. 

Forward ! — Let your quires 
Be swelled to loudness. Strike, ye minstrels, strike, 
Till echo chide the measure — Pour around, 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 75 

Ye, whom youth warrants for^t, the billowy dance, 
Swayed in its tides by harmony — A health ! — 
I pledge ye, ladies ! — Bring me wine ! 

(Lorenzo to Scoroncolo, aside). 

Remember ! 
Scoron. 
The health shall not escape me — 

Duke. 

Come Lorenzo ! 
Sit near us. What is he ? — there, — of the service ! — 

(pointing to Scoroncolo.) 
That man of blighted looks, to whom, of late, 
Thine ear, methinks, and company are given, 
By choice, above his fellows — 

Lorenzo. 

One who calls 
My quarrel his — a sworder — Ask no further — 

Duke. 
Hast thou been wronged ? 

Lorenzo. 

Past mercy — 
Duke. 

Nay ! — forget it! 
Lorenzo. 
'Tis yet too early, Cousin — 

Duke. 
Tush ! — thy spleen 
NVer yet was bold enough for mischief — On ! 
Ye of the revel! — {Dance — during which Lorenzo is 
beckoned by Page and retires.) 



76 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

Lionardo (returning.) 

Is your wine drunk out ? 
Oh! silence most disloyal ! — ye were pledged ! — 
Have ye no health in answer ? — -To the Duke ! — 
Fill, that your glasses lip the blushing wine — 
Ye clarion blowers, — handlers of the vio], — 
Ye, who by noisy lungs do earn your quiet, 
Be ready with your chorus to my pledge — 
Health long and joyous to the Medici ! 

SONG with CHORUS. 

"Pis the noon of the Winter night ! 
As the noon of the day star, bright ; — 

Let it pass as it came, 

With the sound and the flame 
Of the dance, by the wild revel's light. 

Sleep's challenge we met — it hath fled — 
Mirth cradles and wakes in its bed, — 

While its dreams in light throng, 

With the jest and the song, 
Now captive, by Fancy are led. 

Let us sing to the night, ere it flies 

To the home where 'twas born and it dies ; — 

With the light on its wing, 

That earth's gladness can bring 
Ee'n to shadows, when thrown from the skies. 

Health to all ! — health that stirs with the sun ! — 
W^ould the course of its glories were run ! 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 77 

That the cares were all set, 
In its rays that are met, — 
That night's morrow again were begun ! 

'Tis the noon of the winter night ! 
As the noon of the day star, bright; — 

Let it pass as it came, 

With the sound and the flame 
Of the dance, by the wild revel's light. 

(Lorenzo whispers to the Duke — Scoroncolo with- 
draws.) 
Duke. 
Enough ! — poor wench ! — There is no augury 
In woman's front — Hast thou the ring ? 
Lorenzo. 

Her cypher, 
Thou'lt see, doth give it warrant — Mark, what name 
Is graven there, within — It was her eye 
That led me to the bauble, searching there 
For argument 'gainst tears — she questioned it 
With such moist scrutiny, whene'er my speech 
Was earnest in your suit — 

Duke. 

Thou wretch ! to vex 
Her nature thus ! — she wept ? 

Lorenzo. 

No — Sorrow's veil, 
That fringed her lids, ne'er dropped upon her cheek — 
Pride caught it ere it fell — 



78 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

Duke, 

Lead to her — Quick ! 
My gloves ! — What service shall we take ? 
Lorenzo. 

Chuse those 
Who whisper least, — some three or four, — say thus — 
Th' Hungarian Giomo with Justinian — him — 
Plague on't, who keeps thy purse — 
Duke. 

Sacchi ? 
Lorenzo. 

The same — 
Bid them keep careful watch upon thy person, 
That none approach — Those are about, to night, — 
Whose greeting would be rude — 

Page {presenting gloves.) 

Gloves for your Highness — 
Duke. 
Ha ! there's brave choice — Lorenzo, dost thou mark ? — 
Steel for the camp ; and silk for beauty's bower — 
Both match my humour — tell me, Lorenzino, 
Which gear were best to night? 

{Voice in the crowd?) 

The Gauntlet! 
Duke. 

Ha! 
Who spoke ? 

Lorenzo. 
A jester,- — licensed by his mask — 
He counsels the steel-glove, mocking our errand ; 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 79 

Rogue ! — he would match it with the circling arm, 
The hand's soft pressure, and the palm's discourse — 
Away ! we're noted — 

Duke. 
Look i' the middle, — there — 
Nay ! thou art slow, 'tis gone — 
Lorenzo. 

What now ! 
Duke. 
Antics! — nought else — A mean ill shapen fellow, 
Masqued as thyself, — his hat and doublet thine, — 
Stole near a lover, as he urged his suit, 
And made a shew of stabbing him behind — 
He beckoned me to look — 

Lorenzo. 

Which was he ? 
Duke. 

Tush ! 
No matter ! — let him go — He 'scaped my notice 
O' the sudden, in the bevy — 

Lorenzo (to Page.) 

Hath the Greek 
Been noted of this company ? 
Page. 

I* the palace, 
None answer for him. Since late noon, our Masque,— 
One that he tricks, a pageant of old Greece, — 
Hath halted for its argument, which none 
Save he can furnish — 



SO THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

Duke (reading a billet.) 

Cosmo doth keep home, — 
Vexed, thou wilt read it, with a saucy rheum. — 
Caudles and posset drinks ! — I never sneeze 
But thinking on our cousin — What's the rest ? (reading) 
He prays my counsel, — are his humours mine, 
That I should bid them forth ? — (reading) Oh ! the 

State's need — 
What's here ? — craves instant pittance — Doth it wake 
So late i' the night, to fast at supper time ? — 
His wit is crazed by rheum— (to Page) I'll come to- 
morrow, — 
My service to your master, and good rest — 
Thou'lt store the billet — (to Lorenzo) True! the 

gloves — aye those ! — 
Chuse for me, Lorenzino ! 

Lorenzo. 

Here is satin, 
Soft as her palm, and perfumed too — 
Duke. 

This fits— 
Now, let us walk — Thine arm ! 

Page (without.) 

Room for the Duchess ! 
Lorenzo. 
Plague on her steps ! — What brings her here ? 
Duke. 

Rude cur ! 
I'll spurn thee for that saying — Breathe her name 
But once again, thus lightly, and thou 'rt dumb 



sc. in.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 81 

For ever — Hence ! 

Lorenzo. 
To whom ? 
Duke. 

Stay ! — I may need thee — 



SCENE III. 

Enter Bianca. 

Duke. 

What ! — the lost partner of our revels ! — she, 
Whose mirth became our sadness, when 'twas missed- 
Sweet renegade from melancholy\s creed ! — 
See ! — 'Tis the same glad company — Sit here ! — 
Sit, while they greet thee, love ! 
Bianca. 

I am thy wife — 
Thou art forsaken, — I would stay with thee — 
Men say thou wilt be bloody, and renounce 
The love they bore thee — 

Duke. 

Truce, — fair Anchorite ! — 
When I am masked, then school me, — Lorenzino 
Doth hold me now apart ; — yet, ere yon lights 
Burn out, expect me back — Be Queen o' the revel, 
As thou wert wont, Bianca — Tend the Duchess, 
Ye gallants of the service ! 

G 



82 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [activ. 

BlANCA. 

Thou — Lorenzo ! — 
Stay — I would speak with thee — 
Duke. 

Back, Sirrah !— She 
Who calls thee, hath my voice — Use him, Bianca — 
He '11 wait thy bidding— [Exit Duke. 

{Curtain is again drawn across the Hall.) 



SCENE IV. 

Bianca and Lorenzo. 
Bianca. 

Thou dost hear. — My will 
Hath this extent.— To-night, where doth he lodge 
Who left us ? 

Lorenzo. 
Woulds't thou follow? — It were late 
To guide thee, lady, — ask of me to-morrow ! 

Bianca. 
What span of life would Medici allow 
To him who played the lover with his wife ? — 
By Heaven, — thou know'st it, — he would strike thee 

dead, 
The quicker, that himself had done me wrong — 
Thou wilt not tell me ? — I'll wake up the city, 
And have thee cried for Traitor through each lane 
And alley of its limit, till his ear 



sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 83 

Be reached, whom I would seek, and with the note 
He wake to hang thee. — 

Lorenzo. 

Take this key — Its use 
Will bring thee to our chamber, — where, i' the pannel, 
Thou'lt find a lock to match it— 'Tis a way, 
Practised beneath the building, from the closet 
Where Medici retires — 

Bianca. 
What's in thy keeping, 
That he should covet now, i' the middle night ; 
When beggars hush their need, and misers sleep ? 

Lorenzo. 
Young Laura wakes,— 

Bianca. 

'Tis false ! — Fthe prison cell, 
Fixed as the marble where she kneels, and pale, 
She prays \ — like sculptured grief upon a tomb, 
Noting but what's beneath. 

Lorenzo. 

True — In death's vault 
He lies, whom she doth weep, — her birth's twin fellow, — 
If she be coy. — I seek her — 

Bianca. 

To thy work, — 
Base pander ! — yet I doubt thee — There's a coil 
In this night's chances, that my fears untwist — 
1 watch o'er Alessandro — [Exit Bianca. 



84 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 



SCENE V. 

Lorenzo (alone.) 

Lorenzo. 
Well !— E'en come, 
Bianca, if thou wilt, to where our scene 
Is acted — In that key thou bear^st a part, 
That damns thee with us, if our play should faiL 
Time lends no better counsel- — 



SCENE VI. 

Enter Scoroncolo. 
Scoron. 

Doth our bargain 
Hold for to night ? — The stair is lone, and dark — 
I've watched till I am sleepy — 

Lorenzo. 

Wake to fortune! — 
Thou shalt achieve it, — and thy former crosses, 
Shame on the Duke, be quoted o'er our cups, 
For instance of thy star's new destiny— 

Scoron. 
Aye 'twas my flouted service, — there began 
My spirit's fever — Let them rue it, — those 
Who gave me scorn for wages — Where are they 



sc. vi.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 85 

Who undertake this hire, and share its price ? 

Lorenzo. 
Thou art my fellow, — none but thou — The buck 
We quarry, is no starveling of the herd ; 
The first and tallest, good Scoroncolo ! 
Therefore be ready with thy weapon — See,— 
Dost mark me ? that its edge be tempered — Aye ! 
Thy looks do give it warrant — He, whose coat 
Must prove it, waits me in St. Mark's piazza — 
Dodge us from thence, at distance, to the gate 
Last on the water side — 

ScORON. 

Is't there — i 9 the room 
I tricked, that we must do it ? 

Lorenzo. 

Where, in Florence, 
Is he less heeded, if his voice be loud ? — 
It is our hall of revel, where he sups 
With brawlers and night gallants, such as thee — 
Of late, the guard, when challenged from the lattice, 
Mocks at their shouts of rescue, and ne'er stirs 
Upon his post to note them — Alessandro 
Did, of himself, make register, that none 
Should heed him on this watch — 
Scoron. 

Oh rare conceit ! 
So doth he fasten against help the door 
That traps him — 

Lorenzo. 
Even so — Now, to the prison — 



86 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

Firsts guide Allori to our chamber, where 
They wait, who follow upon Cosmo's track — - 
Francesco, Zeffi, and Capponi, — these 
Are led by Lionardo, with such friends 
As muster in their name — 

Scoron. 

How, if the spite 
Of her I serve, should cross us, — the blind hag 
Called Fortune, — do we sink ? 

Lorenzo. 

They never drown, 
Who breathe like us — Enough ! — We swim together 
Through time and what's beyond — [Exit Scoroncolo. 
Lorenzo (solu&.) 

Lorenzo. 
Now, what th' incentive was that pricked me on 
To meet these dark and questionable ends, 
Will be an after wonder for the page 
That chronicles the story of to-night — 
Say, 'twas my humour, — and enough is said 
For those who know, how, like a mole i'the ground, 
Our nature works, — when busy, then most blind, — 
And lighted only where its mischief ends, — 
This man's undoing was a morning's thought ; — 
Such might have been his state's advancement. — Spleen, 
Like charity, is nursed by leisure, — both 
Are of caprice engendered, — born to chance — 

[Exit Lorenzo. 



sc. vin.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 87 

SCENE VII. 
St. Mark's Piazza — Midnight, 

Duke (solus.) 

'Tis ever thus, that pleasure's chalice mocks 

Our thirsty sense with an expectant draughty 

That sparkles most, when furthest from the lips, 

And tasted, leaves no relish — 

Where doth this fellow stay ? — Plague on my haste 

That brought me here to muse — The sleepy reign 

Of darkness is confirmed, and midnight lends 

Her sable plumage to the wings of time. 

T'is the month's noon, — and she, whose rule is chaste, 

To night sits highest 'mid the guests of heaven — 

Mild witness of wild deeds ! — and therefore set, 

For merciful report of earth to heaven — 

Who comes ? 



And thou ? 



SCENE VIII. 

Enter Lorenzo. 

Lorenzo. 
A friend to Florence and the Duke ! 

Duke. 

The Duke's worst enemy, — no less 



88 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act iv. 

To Florence, if the public voice be true — 
Now, cousin Pandarus !— - Was it thy sport, 
That I should match my anger with the cold, 
And keep the frost at bay with curses — Speak !— 
Where hast thou loitered ? ere I strike thee,— 
Lorenzo. 

Hold !— 
Being struck, I may yield sparks — The dullest flint 
Gives flame for blows — Remember, cousin, he, 
Whom last I stabbed, the Roman gallant, died 
For less than buffets — 

Duke. 
Art thou here to prate 
Of murder ? — Speak of Laura ! — Lead to where 
She chides the lengthened moments, loth to deem 
That love can be a laggard in his gait — 

Lorenzo. 
Stay, Prince ! — remember, though the boy hath wings, 
Hoodwinked he flies — The maid hath sent this scarf, 
With which, she wills, that he who seeks her bower, 
Should veil those busy questioners, his eyes, — 
Lest that they peep too curiously abroad, — 

Duke. 
Speak by the card ! — What now ? 
Lorenzo. 

A cautious dame 
Receives us, — one who cares not to be known, 
While yet your choice is green and unconfirmed — 
To this conceit Fm sworn — 

Duke. 

By love's bright heaven !- 



sc. vin.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 89 

It likes me. — 'Tis the spur my spirit needs — 
Thou know'st the trick of musing which of late 
Hath stolen upon my leisure ; — should it grow 
To habit, 'tis thy occupation's ruin — 
Look well to this ! — What kept thee ? 

Lorenzo. 

Maiden fears 
O' the blushes dye, not pale, still held me back — 
I' faith she loves thee — Tremblingly she spoke, 
Mending her syllables with tender sighs, 
F the pause that broke them — Could I chide delay, 
That sued 'gainst haste so prettily ? — Besides, 
I deemed that in the promise of the night, 
Were some conceits that charmed from sadness — 
Duke. 

Fool! 
The path to thought is level with the way 
That pleasure treads — Desire was ever sad — 
I should have played the truant, had the chimes 
Told of your further stay ; — such tricks had thought 
Palmed on my leisure. 

Lorenzo. 

Wilt thou please to cloak ? — 
We'll mask the bandage. 

Duke. 
How the phantoms fly 
At passion's bidding ! — Oh, the spider threads 
By fancy woven in the night of thought, 
Though cold and filmy when the soul is dark, 
Are lines of silver in the sunny air 



90 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 

Of love's uprising — 

Give me the masquing suit — So ! take my sword — 
And watch while I am cloaking — Come, disguise ! — 
Thou art love's chosen livery — Be mine ! 

(retires to the end of the stage) 
Lorenzo (aside.) 
He that should stab thee now, would find more life 
Within thy breast, than if his steel had searched, 
Some half hour since, — when hope and fancy slept — 
The choicest morsel at revenge's board 
Is life — How poor a banquet would she make,— 
Did she not watch her moment, — when to kill. 
(aloud) Cousin, — I muse ! — Would not marauding death 
Find richer booty, if to night he sacked 
Thy soul's gay dwelling, — now that festival 
Is held within, than if he timed his theft, 
When pleasure slept, and moody thought kept watch ? 

Duke. 
Lead to my love ! — I may be plagued with thought 
I 'the day that comes— bring thy philosophy 
For question then — 

Lorenzo. 

Nay ! — I am answered now — 
At noon I will not vex thy drowsy ear 
With such discourse — Late watching needs repose — 
Thou wilt be sleeping — Come, let me blind thee — 
Duke. 

Quick ! 
My soul flies forward — Now ! art thou my guide ? — 

Lorenzo. 
Trust to my arm — It will not fail thee, Cousin ! 

[Exit Lorenzo leading Duke. 



ACT V. 

SCENE I. — Lorenzo's private chamber (as in Act II.) 
now hung with tapestry. 

Enter, from door behind the arras, Lorenzo leading 
the Duke blinded. 

Lorenzo (removing the scarf). 
So, — thou art lodged — 

Duke. 
Tis a quick air ! — 
Lorenzo. 

There's fuel, 
See, Cousin, on the hearth — more, I dare guess, 
Than thou wilt need ere morning. 
Duke. 

Nay, — I shake, 
Lorenzo, — cold, as the starved beggar's cur, 
Upon the pavement left at night to whine. 
Heap on more logs — Where, by the river's course 
And compass, do we stand i'the city ? — West, 
How say'st thou, from our chamber ? — Well ! to-morrow, 
I'll beat thy secret from its hiding place — 
Thy hand — uncloak me — So, — bestow my weapon 
Where I may reach it, — with the curtain's fold, — 



92 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

There, — on the bracket — 

Lorenzo, {removing the Dukes sword, twists the belt 

round its hilt.) 

All is done — Sit, Cousin,- — 
Thou'rt weary, on this couch — Shall I go forth, — 
To bid the guest we wait for to thy side ? 

Duke. 
Else are we dreamers — Hence ! — {Exit Lorenzo.) 

My slave and cousin ! — 
How bravely shall I trick thee ! — Young Alberto 
Doth quit the prison for his home ; — and here, 
Set fairly down, his warrant of release 
Is ready for her hand.— Poor frighted maid ! 
Whom I have won, yet now do banish forth 
From this rank air of Florence to the hills — 
Come Laura ! but for this. — Be it my shame, 
That I do not consent to do thee wrong — 
My love's devotion is the altar's fire ; — 
It burns too fiercely for a vestal shrine, 
Consumes its victim ere the vow be said, — 
And scares the baby God to whom it climbs — 
What's here ? {examining the tapestry on the walls.) The 

fire burns low — A tragic web 
Of Agamemnon, told by iEschylus. — 
Aye ! — 'tis his bath of blood — How grim, methinks, 
His clotted beard and swooning eyeballs ! — Spells, — 
And demons ! — Am I witched ? — The canvass moves ! — 
What ho ! 

Lorenzo {entering.) 
Ho ! Signor ! dost thou sleep ? 



sc. i.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 93 

Duke. 

Come hither — 
Lorenzo. 
Cousin, I am thy lacquey — 

Duke. 
Light ! 
Lorenzo {producing a lamp) 

Tis here.— 
Which of these pictured stories woulcPst thou read ? — 
A chronicle, it seems, of slaughtered kings ; — 
Truly a dainty piece of needle work ! — 
And yet, methinks, in a love-chamber, matched 
But strangely on the wall — 

Duke. 

Take heed, Lorenzo ! — 
This is a gloomy jest ; — one that no spirit 
But such as thine, would for its mirth invent — 
Away ! — It pleaseth not — 

Lorenzo. 

See ! on the walls 
Beneath, if there be others. — Since late noon, 
The hangings were fresh set — Thy memory 
Needs further help — ( tearing down tapestry ) Lo ! 

Bacchus and his crew 
Of tipsy revellers ! 

Duke. 
Is't fantasy, 
That makes mine eye thy word's approver ? — Spells 
Are busy with my senses — If I dream, 
Thou art a phantom that doth mock me. — Thus 



94 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

I prove thee — {endeavouring to draw his sword) Ha ! — the 

handle knotted ! — Slave, 
Where hast thou brought me? — Speak, ere with this stool 
I dash thee into brains — 

Lorenzo. 

This is no cheat. — 
What seems, is present — *Tis our hall of riot — 
Here was your seat, when last we feasted — There 
Sat young Laurentia, — she from Sicily, 
New to our revels, — daintily her voice 
Matched with the viol — See! — with an unwashed chalice, 
Tuneless and broken, it is tossed aside — 
So,— art thou wakened ? — Thou art Alessandro — 
And I, Lorenzo, to thy lusts purveyor, — 
Next of thy kin, — who shall be Duke in Florence, 
When thou art chapelled with the Medici — 
Dost thou not know me ? 

Duke. 
Aye ! — for Lorenzino — 
Stand from me ! mummer ! — Ha ! beset ! — 

(Lorenzo discovers Scoroncolo in the doorway.) 
Lorenzo. 

The guest 
Late summoned — See, if thou dost know him ? — He 
Of blighted looks — the sworder ! 
Duke. 

Are ye leagued 
For this ? — against my life ! — As the staked bull, 
I yet may bellow — Treason ! — Help ! — My cries 
May reach the guard-room — Murder ' — 



sc. i.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 95 

Lorenzo. 

Nay, — Forbear 
This idle clamour — 'Tis in vain. — Remember, 
How oft the sleepy household hath been scared 
By scenes of mimic quarrel acted here — 
How oft our midnight revels have been marred 
By the roused watch ; — till, in an angry fit, 
Thou, Alessandro, didst forbid their service, — 
Curst them for meddling knaves, — and under pain 
Of staff and sword did'st warn them back — ^Twas I 
Who ever raised the brawl, provoking shouts 
For " Help/' for " Rescue" — In death's struggle, none 
Ere gave more startling notice to the night, 
That murder was abroad, than, ('twas thy sport 
To mark me,) I, 'midst thrusts and bufferings, 
Did wittingly rehearse — Yet no one came — 
They feared to vex thee — 

Duke. 

Even so, Lorenzo ! — 
I will be mute — Are your knives whetted ? — Come, 
Be merciful, good ruffians, and begin ! 
Have I not struck thee ? — jeered thee, Lorenzino, — 
Wilt thou not stab me ? 

Lorenzo. 
Aye ! — One word — the last ! — 
Bianca doth in this our tragedy, 
Which thou must name, consent, and bear a part — 
We have her warrant for^t — Anon, she '11 come, 
To see thee dead — Thou wouldst not baulk her — Here 
Is my sword's point to speed thee — 



96 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Duke. 

Stay thine hand ! — 
A moment spare me, — 'till again my blood 
Hath brought its tide of manhood to my heart, 
Which thy fell words have frozen — For, to die, 
Now that I tremble, and the damp of fear 
Hath hung dishonours stain upon my brow, 
Were, as it slumbers, to betray the soul 
W T ithin my keeping — 

Lorenzo. 
Life is Heaven's boon — 
Seek it, as fitting, on thy knees — 
Duke. 

Base cur ! 
I thank thee for that word — My soldier's blood 
Hath found its current — W T ill ye scuffle ? — Oh 
But for a peasant's staff to match your swords ! — 
Back ! — thou grim porter — I will die i' the pass 
That leads to freedom. — (rushes to door.) 
Lionardo (without.) 

Ho ! Lorenzo ! 
Conspirator (without.) 

Back !— 
The word? 

Lionardo (ivithout.) 
Lorenzo ! 

Duke. 
5 Tis Allori's voice! 
Gods ! I am saved — On, Lionardo ! 
Lionardo. 

Who 



sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 97 

Calls on my name ? 

Duke. 
The Duke, — he, thy worst foe, 
Is in the clutch of murder — ^Tis enough — 
I know thee — Thou wilt side with Medici 
Against his butchers — 

SCORONCOLO (to LlONARDO.) 

Back! Sir— 
Lorenzo. 

Smite him down, 
Should he be rude — 



SCENE II. 

Enter Lionardo (forcing his way.) 

Brave Alessandro ! — So ! — 
We are together. — 

Now Lorenzo ! — Hath 
Th' assassin's trade, — 

Duke. 
Ah ! thou art hurt — He bleeds- 
Lionardo. 
Yon fellow i' the doorway — 

Lorenzo. 

On what errand, 
Allori, art thou here ? — Is Cosmo dead, 
That he can spare the watching ? 

H 



98 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE, [act v. 

LlONARDO. 

F th 5 Arsenal, 
Hedged round with friends, he doth keep garrison — 
The Greek hath done it — 

Duke. 

Oh ! brave Michael ! 
Lorenzo. 

Cross, 
Allori, to our side — Set on, Scoroncolo— 

LlONARDO. 

Forbear ! Thou hast belied him — Hold, Lorenzo ! 
My brain is giddy — I' the street, unbound, 
With none save Laura, and a torch, — mine oath, 
^Fore Heaven, it is true — e'en now, I crossed 
Upon Alberto, — nay, from my scant breath 
Did change a hasty greeting, as I passed — 
The Duke had set him free — 
Duke. 

Dost hear, Lorenzo ? — 
I tricked thee — 

Lorenzo. 
So— good night ! — Come, if the Greek 
Be out before us, we must bustle — Strain 
Thy weapon hard, Scoroncolo — (LiONARDo/a/fe.) 
Duke. 

He faints — 
Shame on'mine eyes ! — Oh for a sword ! 

LlONARDO. 

Take mine — 
Tis of good temper — 






sc. ii.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 99 

Duke. 

Bless thee ! — In earth's compass, 
This only makes me rich, — the thing I hold — 
Have at ye for us both ! [rushes at Scoroncolo, who 
stabs him.) 

SCORONCOLO. 

Hell's welcome ! — Thus, 
I greet thee — 

Lorenzo {stabs the Duke behind.) 
He is dead — 
Lionardo (recovering 

What hast thou done ? 
Lorenzo. 
Struck down the Duke, — a nuisance to the State — 
A tyrant, and a libertine — the scourge 
Of each man's home — Look up, and see who felled thee! — 
'Twas I — 'twas Lorenzino, — the buffoon — 
Thy jesting cousin, — pander to thy lust, 
Thy humour's butt, — the scape goat of thy mirth — 
Ho ! Alessandro, wake ! — No frolic yet 
Hath matched with this — Awake ! — It is our last — 

Lionardo. 
Accursed Lorenzo ! 

Lorenzo. 
What's the matter, Sirs ! — 
Be moving — Lionardo ! you lack colour, 
Forth to the air ! — Oar friends, r 5 the street without, 
Jump for the news our swords are telling — 
Lionardo. 

Why, 



100 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Base ruffian, didst thou lure me to this pass, 
Where shame doth hem me in on every side — 
Henceforth, my name is stamped for Murderer, — 
'Twas he who poniarded the Duke ! — 5 Tis false — 
Laura ! believe it not — Assassins ! — stay her ! 
See ! I have hurts — She will escape me — Bare 
My bosom, — Laura ! — See, what witnesses 
Are here to quit me — I am sinking — Laura! {faints.) 

Lorenzo. 
He faints from bleeding — Bear him forth, and spread 
This dead voluptuary on yonder couch- 
Its silken pillows, and rich furniture, 
Beseem his ducal limbs — Unusual toil 
Hath chartered him for rest — Secure the locks 
Behind our passage, — lest unruly service 
Break in before 'tis fitting — To the street ! — 
Our steeds are saddled, should we need them — Hence ! — 
And so, farewell — Duke Alessandro ! — [Exit with Sco- 
roncolo, supporting Lionardo. 



SCENE III. 

Enter by the pannel Bianca with a lamp, 

Bianca {after a pause.) 

Gone ! — 
It was the wind that mocked me — Twice, his groan, 
Twice, i' the vault it met me, as I came. 
Can Fancy sport e'en in the brain that cons 



sc. in.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 101 

Despair's sad task, there idling 'neath the lash 
Of sternest Destiny ! — How damp the air, — 
And silent !« — such, methinks, as breathed by those 
Late buried, i* the sepulchre, who wake too late. 
Oh, heart of woman !— There is fire — yet drops, 
Cold as the dew, at midnight, on my brow 
Within its notice gather, and there stay — 
Shame on my cheek!— What should I fear, whose fear 
Hath in 't no hope ? — Why even thus, Bianca, — 
Fear is hope's spectre, and thy hope is dead — 
Shall I go forth ? — to whom ? — yet, I must breathe — 
How I could drink the air! — {noise ivithouf) They 

come — Fate brings 
The use for which I stored thee-^ {unsheaths a dagger) 

Come thou forth, 
My soul's best counsellor ! — {extinguishes the lamp, and 

sees the body o/Alessandro muffled in his cloak 

on the couch, by light of fire from the hearth.) 
Have we then passed 
Into Death's company of spectres, or 
Is he upon the couch a phantom, that 
Doth mock my waking sense ! — Oh ! for more light, 
Or less than what is here — Up, Alessandro ! — 
Up from thy couch — Thy wife, thy Duchess, I, 
Do need it for my death bed. — Up — Awake ! 
How still and pale thou art ! — Who whispers ? — soft — 
He breathes — Some beetle hums, — else I could listen — 
Oh ! how my eye-balls throb ! — It stirred — again ! — 
The mantle heaves — why then there's life beneath, — 
And I will lift it — Wake ! thou mimic, ere 



102 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

I spurn thee for a corse. — Off, trappings ! — Now, 

I fear thee not, for thou art nothing — Dead ! — 

I left thee smiling — yesterday — My brain 

Is plagued with watching — No ! — not yesterday — 

Yet not long since, — as at our bridal.— Who 

Hath gored thee thus? — Oh! thou art murdered— 

Help!— 
Up, Florence, from thy sleep ! 

Michael {without.) 

Within there ! — Speak !— 
Doth the Duke live ? 

BlANCA. 

Ye simple tongues to ask !— 
Life is no willing bird, that bides within 
Its cage when open — Think ye, that man's soul 
E'er tenanted such rifted dwelling-place, 
As that on which I look! — 

Michael (ivithout.) 

Break in the pannel — 
Harder ! — yet harder ! — 

BlANCA. 

Slaves! — ye hear — My turn 
Of watch is past — Call up the sleepy guard 
That holds me in exchange. — The countersign 
Is Murder !— 






sc. iv.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 103 

SCENE IV. 

{Door is forced. Enter Michael with Guard.) 

Michael. 
Keep the door — See to the Duke ! — 
How is't, great Sir ? — Nay, let him rest — Life's thread 
Is cut, where closest — I arrest thee. Duchess — 
See, guilt hath scared her reason, — in her hand 
Death's instrument — 

BlANCA. 

Ah ! — welcome! — I had missed 
What most I need — Oh ! now I do remember 
Why I did come into this vault of death — 
I feared to do it, — else — {stabs herself and dies.) 

Michael. 

Oh woman's spirit ! 
How bravely dost thou wing the eagle's flight, 
When frighted from thy dove-cot ! — Nothing stirs 
Of all that lived within her — Thus, her rage 
Did at its being strike, as Heaven's flame 
Scathes its own fires and passes. Fate unravels 
Her own dark web most tangled by conjecture — 
These bloody chances are perplexing — Where 
Is he, the bleeding laggard of the covey, 
The pillion cavalier, whom, in their haste, 
They tossed like ballast from their company, — 
As we were chasing — Bring him in — Alive 
Or dead, he may be questioned — Prince Lorenzo 
Will help to spell his features — 



104 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Captain of the Guard. 

Through the palace, 
All mouths are clamouring for his Highness ; — none 
Have answered for him — He who keeps the watch 
At th' outer wicket, challenged such a step, 
Some half hour since, in company with others, 
Two, as he thinks, — one drugged with wine — but those, 
Who watch o' this side, take no special note 
Of such late challenge— 'tis forbidden. 
Michael. 

He, 
Who played the drunkard, was no reveller — 
I warrant ye, a sword er, hurt i* the bout 
With Medici, — See ! how he gripes his weapon 
In his dead fingers — nay, our prisoner, 
Is, it may chance, no other. — Did the buzzard 
Dream of Lorenzo, saidst thou, when his post 
Was thus encountered ? 

Captain of the Guard. 

His belief, close tried, 
Is stubborn in its own approval — Twice, 
Lorenzo in his answers has been noted 
For one of the bevy — 

Michael. 
Well ! — Truth's character 
To night masks fancy. — What we apprehend, 
Most strange, as in a dream, is sure to follow — 

Laura (without.) 
Within !~ 

Michael. 
See, Captain, to the door! 



sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 105 

Laura. 

Within ! 
Ye in the chamber ! — I would pass — Tis Laura, 
The Strozzi's Laura, Sirs ! 

Michael. 

Admit her — 



SCENE V. 

aura, entering with Alberto. 
I 
Know of the things that fright ye. — Let me view 
Whatever of death is in your keeping. 
Alberto. 

Nay! 
Turn hither, Laura — 

Laura (gazing on the body o/Alessandro.) 
'Tis not he.— Alberto ! 
Would he be thus ? — Death moulds the face anew ; 
So I have heard — yet not so soon — Say, brother !— 
Would he be thus ? 

Alberto. 
'Tis Alessandro — Look 
Not on him, sister — The anatomy 
Late charnelled, hath strange fascination hr% — 
And doth betray our sight to ecstasy. 
Laura, dear sister, turn thine eyes here, — or 
But close their lids ; so may the spell that holds 
Thee, yet be broken — 



106 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Laura. 

Yes ! — 'tis another — See ! — 
The lip, the brow — Oh ! how unlike ! — He lives — 
Ye guardian powers still be praised ! — yet there ! — 
Is that the Duke? — that still and stretched out image ! — 
What giant height ! — Oh, more than breath of what 
Life owned, is wanting here — I'll look no more — 
Let us go forth, Alberto. — Why should he 
Be in this matter questioned ? — Tyrant's blood, 
If shed by him, would curdle i' the sun ; 
And he would point to't — Yea ! in Heaven's eye 
He would have done the work on which it smiles ; 
Not chambered here i' the dark — Come, brother ! 
Michael. 

Keep 
The passage ! — Who and what is he, whose hand, 
It seems, was busy in the state's repair, 
When treason stabbed its ruler ? — Are ye dumb ! — 
(to Guards) Set up the rack — There is brief argument 
Within its screw, young sir, that masters silence — 
Attach their persons ! — Lady, change thy blessing, 
'Till daybreak, with thy brother, — prisoners 
Till then, in separate charge — The lad remains — 
Lead her to where ye watch — 

Laura. 

Him ! — my twin brother ! — 
'Ye will not do't— Alberto !— "Tis their trick 
To fright thee — See ! — there is no engine set, — 
No fire— Thou wilt be silent — 






sc. v.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 107 

Alberto. 

Their stern office 
Suits not a woman's eye — Good night ! — (to Laura.) 

Love's blessing ! — 
Michael. 

Bring 
Your engine forward — 

Laura. 
Mercy ! — He who flies, 
Is— 

Alberto. 
Laura ! — 

Laura. 
He hath 'scaped — Oh ! mercy — Speed ! — 
A moment ! — What's the hour ? — See, 'tis broad day ! — 
Now he is safe — 

Alberto. 
Thou wilt not name him ? — 
Michael. 

Bind 
Alberto to the rack — 



SCENE VI. 
(Enter Soldiers supporting Lionardo.) 

Michael. 
So \ our prisoner— 
Ye loiter, fellows— Forward ! 



108 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Soldier. 

Had our step 
Been mended into haste, he whom we bear, 
Would have been scant of breath — Twice, on the way, 
He slipped, o' the sudden, from our company, 
Blood-stricken, to the ground — 
Michael. 

See, if he breathe — 
What of Lorenzo ? 

Lionardo (reviving.) 
Fiends pursue him ! — Who 
Did call him back ? — Lorenzo ! — Doth he answer ? 

Alberto. 
Allori ! 

Laura. 
Lionardo ! 

Lionardo. 
As we rode, 
I plucked it from his belt, — aye, the red knife 
That slew the duke — Shoot boldly ! — Doth he keep 
His seat i'the saddle ? — He'll not 'scape — Both steel 
And shot have struck him — 

Michael (to Captain of the Guard.) 
Dost thou mark ? — 'Twas he 
Who winced beneath our volley, and let fall 
His bridle — Shot i' the back— 

Captain of the Guard. 

Lorenzo ? — 
Michael. 

Hush !— 
Keep this for Cosmo's ear — 



sc. vi.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. 109 

LlONARDO. 

I am no murderer, 
For men to gaze on — Where's my sword ? — Their looks 
Are my dishonour — True ! — In the Duke's need 
I pledged it — Look to where he fell — No matter ! — 
I'll seek it when I wake — The night grows darker, — 
Thou wilt not find it — 

Laura. 
He is dying — Speak ! — 
Where are his wounds ?— Unbutton here— The vest 
Is stiffened — Quick ! — ere in his blood he choke — 

Alberto. 
Look up, Allori ! — 

Lionardo (to Laura.) 
Yes, I know thee — Spirits 
Clothed in thy shape e'en now were busy round me — 
Alberto ! — Laura ! — There again ! — a shadow 
Thrown by death's prism — Are ye living ? — Seek 
My sword — it quits me — (dies) 
Laura. 
Ah ! — See, how o'the sudden, 
Like him o'the couch, his eye's affections fade 
Into a blighted stillness — Is he dead ? 

Alberto. 
Aye, Laura, read it thus — Such giant sorrow, 
When fronted, is best met — 
The griefs we fear to look on, are the mines 
That work our nature's ruin — 

Michael. 

Hark ! — The alarum 



110 THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. [act v. 

Wakes up the city — Cosmo, who now rules 
In Florence, by the event of this dread chance, 
Must solve the riddle of his own authority — 
He who could read it best, it seems, is truant ; — 
Leaving this bloody harvest for conjecture, 
How in his spirit the fell humour rose 
Which now doth work our fear's amazement — See 
That watch be kept upon the bodies — His, 
Whom late ye brought, must, as a felon's, rest — 

Laura 
He is no felon, — thou base Greek ! 
Michael. 

Alas !— 
The epitaph o'er bones of questioned end 
Is seldom writ by charitable pens, 
Or, if so, never read — Allori' s honour 
Needs other shelter from strong circumstance, 
Than lies within his own apology — 
What kind belief will deem that he was slain 
By other weapon than the one still clutched 
In Medici's dead hand ? — 

Laura {removing the sword from the Duke's hand) 
Then, should his blood 
Be on its edge — yet see,— 'tis bright — Wake up, 
Allori ! — Wake, for thou art cleared — This Duke 
Was Lionardo's foe — What slave among ye 
That worshipped at his footstool, would have stood 
Unarmed and willing 'gainst his murderers, — 
As did Allori ? — Oh, 'twas Roman virtue 
To arm thy fellow with the weapon, sole 



sc. vi.] THE DUKE OF FLORENCE. Ill 

In either 's hand— It's sheath is — 
{attempting to stab herself is embraced by Alberto.) 
Alberto. 

Sister, — we 
Are orphans — Wilt thou leave me ? — 

Laura {throwing away the sword, embraces him.) 

No— my Brother ! 
{Curtain falls.) 



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